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Douglass High School


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Frederick Douglass Junior and Senior High School served for many years as a major academic, social, and cultural resource for black families in Huntington. Erected in 1924, on 10th Avenue at the corner of Bruce Street, the school was actually the second one in Huntington to bear the Douglass name. The first Douglass School, a building on 16th Street and Eighth Avenue, had grades one through 12 and graduated its first high school class in 1893. Both were named for the abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

The 1924 three-story brick building was constructed because of the changing educational needs at the secondary level and an increased black enrollment. When Douglass’s name was transferred, the old school was renamed Barnett in honor of one of Huntington’s pioneer African-American ministers.

Appointed principal of the new school in 1925, Henry Davis Hazelwood served until his retirement in 1949. His successors were Henry Smith Jones, 1950–51; Leonard H. Glover, 1952–55; and Joseph A. Slash, 1955–61. During the Hazelwood administration, Douglass emerged as a first-class high school, gaining accreditation from the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges in 1927. The school also fielded a band and varsity athletic teams, developed choirs and dramatic activities, and brought speakers and performers to the community.

Douglass High School closed in 1961 after the integration of public schools in West Virginia. In its two locations the school existed for 70 years, 33 years as a combined elementary-secondary institution, and 37 years as a junior and senior high school. During those decades, Douglass touched the lives of most of Huntington’s black families and educated nearly four generations of their children. In 1985, the Douglass Junior and Senior High School building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Read the National Register nomination.

Written by Ancella R. Bickley

Sources

  1. Bickley, Ancella R. Douglass High School, 1892-1961. Douglass High School Centennial Reunion Book, 1993.

  2. Gould, Alan. "Nomination of Douglass High School to the National Register of Historic Places," in Ancella R. Bickley, ed, Our Mount Vernons: Historic Register Listings of Sites Significant to the Black History of West Virginia. Huntington: Carter G. Woodson Memorial Foundation & Drinko Academy, 1997.

  3. Meadows, Floyd P., Novella Gipson & Aubrey Gipson. The History of Douglass School, 1892-1961. Douglass High School Reunion Souvenir Program Book, 1973.