John T. West School

Historical Significance

The John T. West School, no longer standing, was for many years the only historic African-American school remaining in Norfolk and one of the two earliest remaining school buildings in the city. It is recognized as the first accredited African-American high school in the South and for having a strong liberal arts curriculum that included English, History, Science, Latin, Domestic Arts, and Mathematics.

Originally named "Tanner's Creek School No. 4," the school was built in 1906 to hold the first public African-American high school classes in the city of Norfolk. In 1911, the school, renamed the "Barboursville School," became a combined elementary and high school. In 1913, the size of the building was doubled to create more space for high school classes and the school was renamed in honor of John T. West, the Norfolk County School Superintendent. In 1916, the city of Norfolk purchased Norfolk Mission College and moved the John T. West High School classes to that site. Classes continued here for only 6 years until 1922, when a new school was constructed, named "Booker T. Washington High School." The original building continued to hold elementary school classes until it closed in 1980. 

Physical Description

The John T. West School consisted of three connected structures: the original two-story brick building, the slightly larger first addition adjoined to the south of the original, and the one-story cafeteria wing, built in the 1950s and connected to the main hall between the other two buildings. These buildings were demolished in 2006 and the school was de-listed from the National Register of Historic Places.

Geographical and Contact Information

1425 Bolton Street
Norfolk, Virginia
23504

Cite this Page:

Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, “John T. West School,” African American Historic Sites Database, accessed April 28, 2017, http://aahistoricsitesva.org/items/show/229.

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