Forum: Sam Houston HS


Sam Houston history

Created on: 12/13/10 12:07 PM Views: 4636 Replies: 3
Bayou City History
Posted Monday, December 13, 2010 07:07 AM

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March 30, 2010

Sam Houston High School (old)


Post file
Sam Houston High School, Sept. 1936


For me, it's a little hard to imagine that there was ever a public high school in downtown Houston.

Up until the early 1950s the square block bordered by Austin, Rusk, Caroline and Capitol had long served as a site of education for young Houstonians. In the 1850s, the site was home to the Houston Academy. Decades later, it was home to the Clopper Institute and later sold to the Houston public school system.

In 1894, ground was broken on an $80,000 building that came to be known as Central High School. Described as one of the finest high schools in this part of the country, it also attracted negative attention for its incredible cost: $1.9 million when adjusted for inflation.

That school burned down in March 1919.

Two years later, the building known as Sam Houston High School opened on the property. All of the photos you'll see here are from that era.

Famous alumni include Jack Valenti and renowned marksman Joe Bowman. Lyndon Johnson also taught public speaking there beginning in 1930.

A 1936 Houston Chronicle article mentions that the school board decided Sam Houston High would be renamed after Dick Dowling. If it had gone through, a new high school on the southwest side would have taken the Sam Houston name. Of course, that never happened.

Now, many readers are aware of the Sam Houston High School off Irvington. After it opened in the mid-1950s, the old building became the headquarters for HISD. By the early 1970s, the school district moved out on Richmond and old Sam Houston High was demolished.

HISD still owns the property. It comes up whenever locations for a new High School for the Performing and Visual Arts are discussed.

But for now, the square block remains a parking lot. The only indication of its historic value is a state marker on the south side of the block.


David Nance : Chronicle file
From the Aug. 13, 1965, Chronicle "School administration visitors must pass by guard. Arrow shows entrance, 50 yards away; 'X' is board chairman's parking space."



Fred Bunch : Post file
Sam Houston HS building in 1972.



Post file
Sam Houston High School building.



Darrell Davidson : Chronicle file
From the Jan. 9, 1974 Chronicle: "Paul Vogler, 59, of Corpus Christi, came across these granite columns while searching the rubble of old Sam Houston High School for slate to build a patio. The columns stood at the entrance of the school at Caroline and Capitol where former president Lyndon B. Johnson once taught public speaking. The school is being demolished to make way for a parking lot. Vogler, a pupil of Johnson in 1933, says he hopes to persuade the state Parks and Wildlife Dept. to use the columns as historical markers on the grounds of LBJ State Park near Johnson City."



Posted by J.R. Gonzales at March 30, 2010 11:00 AM

Connie Redden69

Edited 08/17/15 11:15 AM
RE: Bayou City History
Posted Tuesday, January 4, 2011 09:08 PM

I worked summers for HISD during the late '60s and early '70s. We helped move equipment out of the downtown Sam Houston before it was demolished. It was a grand old building.

Bayou City History
Posted Thursday, March 19, 2015 03:26 PM

My great aunt Lillian  Newton Hayward graduated from the old Houston High or Central High, downtown, in 1904. I donated a composite photo of her and the girls drill team from 1904 to the school. Last time I saw it was in a closet of the Houstonette office. Wish I had it back or knew what happened to it.  They wore long black Victorian dresses and were known as the "Black Batallion". 

   Attached is a photo of her gold graduation pin that I had made into a charm, it has small turquoise stones and says HHS '04. I was President of the Sam Houston Houstonettes, the drill team in the late 1960's. Most of the girls did not realize what a long, rich history the group had. Later I believe the name was changed to the "Tigerettes". 

Katherine. Newton Courtland 

Edited 10/15/15 06:32 PM
RE: Bayou City History
Posted Tuesday, October 20, 2015 08:03 AM

None of the three pics are visible. Just the name of the pic is all I see.