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Garnet High School


Garnet High School, an African-American high school in Charleston, was founded in 1900 when a class of 12 Black pupils in Kanawha County passed entrance examinations for high school work. The school was named for Henry Highland Garnet, an ex-slave born in Maryland who became U.S. consul to Liberia. Charles Wesley Boyd was the school’s first principal. From 1900 until Garnet closed in 1956, 2,438 students graduated from the school.

In 1927, Garnet High School moved from its original location in the 500 block of Jacob Street to the corner of Shrewsbury and Lewis streets in Charleston’s old African-American neighborhood. The new building included an auditorium; gymnasium; study hall; library; cafeteria; rooms for sewing, mechanical drawing, domestic science, and printing; laboratories for chemistry, physics, and biology; and other classrooms. By 1937, Garnet was classified as a first-class high school, with a faculty of 20 and a gross student population of about 400.

Four principals served during the existence of the school: Boyd, J.F.J. Clark, Scott M. Brown, and Henry E. Dennis. Garnet graduates include the Reverend Leon Sullivan, class of 1939, originator of the Sullivan Principles which contributed to the ending of racial apartheid in South Africa. Tony Brown, class of 1951, is the host of nationally syndicated television programs.

After integration of the public school system, Garnet High School became Garnet Career Center, an adult training program. It remains in use today. Garnet High School was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.

Read to the National Register nomination.

Written by Hazel P. Wooster


  1. Bickley, Ancella R. History of the West Virginia State Teachers' Association. Washington: National Education Association, 1979.

  2. Randall, James. "The Way We Were." Charleston Garnet High School, 1978.