Dust off your Big Chief tablet, sharpen your no. 2 pencil, and follow along as we review the ABCs (and DEFGHs) of Fort Worth school history. Pay attention. There will be a test.
To a school district, a school is an intangible, an institution separate from the tangible building composed of bricks and blackboards that houses that institution. A school, as an institution, can pack up and move across town to another building. On the other hand, a building can’t move, but it can change names and functions. And both a school as an institution and a building as a home for that institution can have a complicated history as a school district evolves with the city.
Let’s go back in time to the spring of 1910. And let’s say you are a student in Fort Worth High School—Fort Worth’s first coeducational high school. The school opened in 1891.
Your principal is Robert Lee Paschal (1869-1958), who previously had been principal of the Fifth Ward school. Paschal has been principal of Fort Worth High School since 1906.
Not that you care as a teenager in 1910, but the first principal of Fort Worth High School in 1891 was P. M. White. Among the first teachers of the high school was Lily B. Clayton (1862-1942). She is still on the faculty in 1910. Vice principal of Fort Worth High School is Ernest Parker (1867-1943), who also happens to be your math teacher.
Anyway, you are sitting in Mr. Parker’s math classroom in Fort Worth High School on a hot, un-air-conditioned day in late spring of 1910. The ceiling fan is humming, Mr. Parker is droning on and on about the binomial theorem, somewhere outside the classroom’s open windows bees are buzzing. You become sleepy. Your head grows heavy . . . you begin to nod . . . you fall asleep (the binomial theorem has been shown to induce comas in lab animals).
You don’t awaken until 1996.
Wake up, Rip. It’s December 23, 1996. You’ve been asleep eighty-six years. It’s almost Christmas, and you haven’t even started your shopping! While you slept the school system named schools for Paschal, Clayton, and Parker (yes, your math teacher!). In 1996 Fort Worth has more than one hundred schools. But relax. We are concerned today with just eight buildings and the institutions and people associated with them. Just eight buildings. How complicated could eight buildings be? . . .
Don’t panic. We’ll make sense of it all. Let’s begin at the beginning, with building A. . . .
A. Fort Worth High School (1891), 200 South Jennings
First of all, by 1996 the Fort Worth High School that you knew is gone. Long gone. In January 1910 a school board trustee had called the building a “firetrap.” The city was planning to build a replacement building on property on Jennings Avenue that B. B. Paddock had sold to the city. Sure enough, in December 1910 the Fort Worth High School building was destroyed by fire. You were still sound asleep in Mr. Parker’s math classroom when the fire broke out. A fireman tried to rouse you, but you merely mumbled, “Just ten more minutes, Ma. Please?”
B. Central High School (1911), 1015 South Jennings Avenue
In 1911 the replacement building for Fort Worth High School was completed.
These are the cornerstones of the Jennings Avenue building. Note that they do not include the name of the school.
For years the top of the building over the entrance was covered by a “Homes of Parker Commons” banner.
But then one day in 2019 the banner was gone! Indeed “Fort Worth High School” is engraved in stone above the Jennings Street entrance.
Three people familiar to you made the move to the new high school building: R. L. Paschal was principal; Ernest Parker, who had been vice principal and your math teacher at the first Fort Worth High School, was vice principal; Lily B. Clayton was a teacher in the new building.
Fast-forward to 1918. Paschal, Parker, and Clayton were still at the high school on Jennings Avenue. The high school was referred to as “Fort Worth High School” but also sometimes as “Central High,” although as of 1918 it was Fort Worth’s only high school.
But 1918 brought big changes. Fort Worth’s population had increased from 73,312 in 1910 to about 100,000. The school system had outgrown the Jennings Avenue high school building and built a new high school building (building C). On May 19, 1918 the Star-Telegram squelched rumors that the new high school would admit girls only and reported that the 1911 high school building henceforth would house the city’s first junior high school. Among the early teachers at the junior high was Green Berry Trimble (1898-1996).
At first the junior high school was called just “the junior high” because it was the only one in the system. Later it was referred to as “Jennings Avenue Junior High” to distinguish it from other junior high schools.
In 1918 the first principal of the first junior high was your old math teacher, Ernest Parker.
In 1922, in an unusual decision, school trustees renamed the new Mistletoe Heights Elementary School on Park Place Avenue after Lily B. Clayton, who was still teaching at the 1918 Central High School (building C).
Lily B. Clayton died in 1942 after teaching in Fort Worth schools for fifty years.
Ernest Parker retired in 1935 and died in 1943. In 1944 the junior high school was renamed “Ernest Parker Junior High School.” The school closed in 1977, and the building now houses Parker Commons apartments.
C. Fort Worth High School (1918), 1003 West Cannon Street
As we saw in section B, in 1918 Fort Worth opened its third high school building, this one on West Cannon Street six blocks west of the second high school building on Jennings Avenue. Originally the Cannon Street school was named “Fort Worth High School,” as shown by the cornerstone and the nameplate over the west entrance.
R. L. Paschal was again principal in the new high school building—his third. The school was called “Central High” in the 1920 city directory. Ah, but by 1920 Fort Worth did have more than one high school (see building D).
(Cannon Street is named for William H. Cannon, one of the benefactors of Texas Wesleyan College/Fort Worth University , upon whose former site the high school was built.)
In 1935 principal Paschal retired, and Fort Worth High/Central High was renamed “R. L. Paschal High School.”
But in 1955 the Paschal High building on Cannon Street became Technical High School (building D).
By 1955 Green B. Trimble was principal of Technical High School and director of its vocational training program. After teaching at the Jennings Avenue junior high (building B), Trimble had joined Fort Worth’s technical training program as a teacher in 1926. By 1928 he was principal of Vocational High School, which became Technical High School upon moving to the Cannon Street building.
When Trimble retired in 1966 he was director of vocational training for the entire school district. Soon after his retirement Technical High School was renamed “Green B. Trimble Technical High School.”
D. North Fort Worth High School (1919), 600 Park Street
Meanwhile on the North Side, in 1918 as Fort Worth was completing construction of its third high school building (building C), the city also began building its first outlying high school, which would serve the booming North Side. The cornerstone refers to the school as “North Fort Worth High School,” but from the beginning people referred to the school as “North Side High School.”
The land on Park Street that the school was built on had been sold to the city by North Fort Worth Townsite Company, which had developed the city of North Fort Worth, which Fort Worth annexed in 1909.
“North Side High School” opened in 1919.
In 1937 North Fort Worth High School moved from Park Street to a larger campus on McKinley Street (building G) and became—officially—“North Side High School.” That year the school district moved its Vocational High School, located on Gounah Street in the old Travis/Ninth Ward school, into the Park Street building (building D). The Park Street building became “Technical High School.”
In 1955 Technical High School (and principal Green Berry Trimble) put on their traveling shoes and moved south to the building on West Cannon Street (building C) that had first been Fort Worth High School/Central High School and then Paschal High School.
In 1955 the building on Park Street (building D), which originally was North Fort Worth High and then Technical High School, became an annex of J. P. Elder Junior High School (building E), which is located just a few yards to the north.
E. J. P. Elder (1927) Middle School, 709 Northwest 21st Street
In 1927 North Side Junior High School opened on Northwest 21st Street.
In 1935 North Side Junior High School was renamed for John Peyton Elder, who was superintendent of Swift packing plant but also a school board member and city councilman.
F. Paschal High School (1936), 3001 Forest Park Boulevard
A year later, in 1936, the school district built W. P. McLean Junior High School on Forest Park Boulevard.
W. P. McLean Junior High was named for the pioneer Texas jurist who died in 1925. (The W. P. McLean who was a law partner of Walter Scott in 1936 was the son of the man for whom the school is named.)
But the “W. P. McLean” name originally was intended for another school. In 1935 the school district had been building junior high buildings on both Forest Park Boulevard and Seminary Drive. (The Prince Street mentioned in the clip disappeared when Seminary Drive was built between the school building and Rosemont Park.) The building on Seminary Drive originally was to be named “William Pinkney McLean Junior High School.” But the South Fort Worth Civic League protested the name, worried that the school’s athletes would be embarrassed by being called “Pinkeys.” So the “McLean” name went to the Forest Park Boulevard junior high, and the Seminary Drive school was named “Rosemont.” Apparently the civic league was not worried that the school’s athletes might be called “Roseys.”
In 1955 Paschal High School, which had been in building C on Cannon Street, put on its traveling shoes and moved to the McLean building on Forest Park Boulevard as Technical High School moved from building D to building C on Cannon Street. The 1936 McLean building was surrounded by new construction.
Robert Lee Paschal died in 1958, possibly to avoid having to move again.
G. North Side High School (1937), 2211 McKinley Avenue
As mentioned, North Fort Worth High School moved into building G in 1937 and became “North Side High School.”
H. W. P. McLean Middle School (1954), 3816 Stadium Drive
In 1955, as Technical High School was moving into Paschal High’s building on Cannon Street and as Paschal High was moving into McLean Junior High’s building on Forest Park Boulevard, the junior high school put on its traveling shoes and moved from Forest Park Boulevard to a new home on Stadium Drive. This building opened as “W. P. McLean” and has remained so to this day.
As mentioned earlier, by 1966 Fort Worth had more than one hundred schools.
Fast-forward thirty years. On December 23, 1996 the Star-Telegram announced the death of Green Berry Trimble, who, like R. L. Paschal and Lily B. Clayton, was a teacher or principal in three of these eight buildings. Trimble was born only seven years after building A was built and lived to see buildings B through H built.
These eight buildings over their career have housed sixteen institutions.
And that takes us from 1910 to 1996.
And that takes us to test time! Ready, Rip?
Math question 1: school B leaves the South Side at 10:20 a.m. traveling north at forty-five miles per hour; school D leaves the North Side at 11:00 a.m. traveling south at thirty miles per hour. At what time do you again fall asleep?