The Roanoker - July/August 2020 - 74

then & now

JENNY KINCAID BOONE is a Roanoke-based freelance writer and former
business journalist. She is a Roanoke College and Northwestern University
graduate who is passionate about exercise and chai latte.

Salem High School
A RESIDENTIAL BUILDING on Academy Street in
Salem once housed the city's first public high school.
What is now Academy Court apartments, pictured
here, opened in 1890 as Academy Street School, with
eight classrooms and a mansard-style tower for a roof,
according to historical records from Salem Museum
& Historical Society. In 1895, a second building went
up beside it, specifically for serving the upper grade
levels or high schoolers.
The school was renovated in 1901 to add indoor
toilets in a middle area that connects the two buildings,
based on information from the Salem Educational
Foundation & Alumni Association.
But the site was not a school for all of Salem's
students. While white children studied on Academy
Street at the time, black students attended school
in several different locations in the segregated
neighborhoods south of Main Street, according to
the museum and historical society.
Enrollment on Academy Street gradually climbed to
88 students by the end of the 1909-1910 school year.
That was the same time that the local school board

74

JULY/AUGUST 2020

expanded the high school to four years from three years,
according to the foundation & alumni association.
By 1912, Salem needed more room for its growing
student body. The high school relocated from the
Academy Street School to a newly constructed
building at 114 North Broad Street, which is now the
site of Salem's City Hall.
Nineteen years later, in 1931 the day before the
final exams for the semester, a fire broke out at the
Broad Street building, forcing students to relocate to
temporary sites throughout the city. The students were
scattered until the new Andrew Lewis High School
opened in 1933 on College Avenue, according to the
foundation and alumni association.
Now Salem High School has much different
quarters, situated atop a hill on Spartan Drive, off
Main Street. The school is known for its academic
excellence. It has a graduation rate of 97% and enrolls
approximately 1,292 students in grades 9 through 12,
according to the school's 2020 ranking in U.S. News
& World Reports Best High Schools.
-JENNY KINCAID BOONE

TheRoanoker.com

JULIANNE RAINONE JACOB / ARCHIVAL IMAGE COURTESY OF THE VIRGINIA ROOM, ROANOKE PUBLIC LIBRARIES

The city's first public high school opened in a residential building.


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The Roanoker - July/August 2020

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The Roanoker - July/August 2020 - Cover1
The Roanoker - July/August 2020 - Cover2
The Roanoker - July/August 2020 - 3
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The Roanoker - July/August 2020 - Cover3
The Roanoker - July/August 2020 - Cover4
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