Historic Markers Across Alabama

Swayne College / Booker T. Washington School

Marker ID: AHA 
Location: on South Union Street, Montgomery, Alabama
County: Montgomery
Coordinates: N 32° 22.185    W 086° 18.003
  32.36975    -86.30005
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: WMDT9Q


Swayne College

Named for Union general and Freedmen's Bureau agent Wager Swayne, Swayne College was dedicated 21 April 1869. The Bureau appropriated $10,000 for the building, and the local black community purchased 3.5 acres for the site. Future officeholder Elijah Cook submitted the winning location of Union and Grove Streets. The building stood three stories high and was constructed by Henry Duncan with ventilation by Isaac Frazier. George Stanley Pope became the first principal of the school with occupancy in October 1868, and Fisk alumnus Charles Duncan became the first black principal. The American Missionary Association operated the school, and its high standards mirrored the influence of the local Congregationalist church. Swayne contained desks, blackboards, maps, and an organ costing $200. With tuition free to local students, it offered coursework in the alphabet, reading and spelling, advanced reading, arithmetic, geography, and writing. Closing in 1937, Swayne College paved the way for black education in Montgomery and was succeeded by Booker T. Washington School.

Booker T. Washington School

Named for one of the nation's premier educators, Booker T. Washington School began through the efforts of an expanding Swayne College. Its large enrollment forced Swayne officials in 1916 to erect a new building, which they named for the great educator. An even larger enrollment propelled officials in 1925 to add a junior high department with the same name. Three years later, the Montgomery Industrial School, which had been sold to the city, became a part of the junior high department and the site of the first high school. In May 1940, 88 students became the first graduates, and, in 1948, the old Swayne building was demolished to make way for the new $250,000 high school at Union and Grove Streets. A dedication program was held on 3 April 1949, and an auditorium-gymnasium was added in 1954. Only two principals - Prof. J.A. Edwards, who resigned in May 1942, and former basketball coach and teacher, C.T. Smiley, who assumed his duties in September 1942 - served the school. The school's nickname was Yellow Jackets and its colors blue and gold. It was known for its excellent faculty, students, school spirit, marching band, and athletic teams.

Erected 2003 by Alabama Historical Association.

End of Swayne College / Booker T. Washington School