Before and After: Coleman High School, Greenville

You may remember back last summer around this time when I was doing the Book Quotes about Hitchcock and Johnson’s The International Style, I posted this old postcard of Coleman High School in Greenville.

Coleman High School, Greenville (1950, N.W. Overstreet & Associates, archts.)

I was in Greenville recently and decided to check on this school, which I think may now be a middle school. There’s a historic marker that I failed to take a picture of–but no matter, the new helpful Greenville/Washington Co. Preservation website has all the historic markers right there so we can read them from the comfort of our own homes:

COLEMAN HIGH SCHOOL – MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. BOULEVARD, GREENVILLE MS – Named for Lizzie W. Coleman, who was principal of the No. 2 Elementary School. Coleman High School was among the first high schools for African-Americans in the Mississippi Delta. The school served as Greenville’s main high school for African-Americans until 1970. First located on Nelson Street, the school moved to Cleveland Street in 1922. The present school, designed by architect N. W. Overstreet, was built here in 1952. Lizzie Coleman’s motto was “Burn the midnight oil! Be prepared!”

I certainly can’t argue with Ms. Coleman, although I’ve recently been told that I’ve been burning too much midnight oil and that it’s making me cranky. To which I reply, “I’m naturally cranky–mind your own business!”

Anyway, as I thought I remembered back in last year’s post, Coleman seems to be in fairly good repair but has had its windows replaced. It’s not the worst window replacement I’ve ever seen, not even close–even so, I wish they had worked harder to keep the extreme horizontality of the originals. It looks like most of the original awning-type steel windows are still in place on the secondary elevations.

Categories: Cool Old Places, Greenville, Recent Past, Renovation Projects, Schools

6 replies

  1. I taught at this school from 2004-2006. It is indeed a middle school now, with the only real nod to the building’s former use as a high school being a large but disorganized trophy case with some artifacts in it. The fourth shot down in your photo series is the back of the library. A teacher told me that this was a cafeteria space at one point in time, but I’m not sure how accurate that is.

    The front facade of the building is in much better repair than the back side. The building has also been added onto since its original construction. The interior of the building is in fairly good shape and was kept clean when I was there. The biggest problem with the space was the classrooms, which are cinderblock rectangles that are just a smidge small for the needs of a modern classroom. Several of them had exterior windows which needed to be repaired or replaced. My room still had old, dimpled green chalkboards which were not very useful and wall mounted fans that looked like tiny versions of cotton gin fans.

    A lot of alums of Coleman High School took great pride in the school. Nice to see it noted here.


    • I graduated from Coleman High, in 1963, I’ve not had a chance to see the front of the school since about 1980, I’ve not seen the school the from that time.
      During our time the trophy case was a show case of pride, Music, Sport, and some Academics. Looking at the the photos I find it hard to see the old library space as the Cafeteria, it seem so adequate as library regardless of other changes that might have been made, during our time, there weren’t awful lot books, but a lot space on the shelves for added books. Hopefully that has changed.


  2. There is so much history about this school. It’s sad that the students today are not aware of this. I’m told that they hear of the negative that has become the norm of these students.Hopefully they get a true meaning of what a Coleman tiger is when the reunion occurs in 2014.


  3. This was my Dads KENNETH GRIFFIN school backin ’66 I jus shared these photos with him. Historic meaningful memories he was number fifthteen on basketball team.


  4. The present library was indeed the cafeteria.


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