Historic Markers Across Tennessee

Christian Brothers High School / Christian Brothers Band

Marker ID: THC 4E 169
Location: 5900 Walnut Grove Road, Memphis, TN
County: Shelby
Coordinates: N 35° 7.864    W 089° 51.793
  35.13106666    -89.86321666
Style: Free Standing **
Waymark: None


Christian Brothers High School

Christian Brothers High School, the oldest high school for boys in Memphis, opened November 21, 1871 as the secondary department of Christian Brothers College at 612 Adams Avenue. CBC was established by the Brothers of the Christian Schools, a Roman Catholic religious teaching order founded in 1681 in France. The school survived three yellow fever epidemics of the 1870s. Alumnus Malcolm Rice Patterson was the first native Memphian elected governor of Tennessee, serving from 1902 to 1911. In 1940 CBC moved to 650 East Parkway South. In 1948, Mayor Watkins Overton saluted CBC as a "Temple of Tolerance," welcoming Catholic, Jewish and Protestant students. The first African-American student, Jesse Hosea Turner, Jr., was admitted in 1962. He enrolled in 1963, yielding the first racially diverse high school student body in Memphis. The high school moved to 5900 Walnut Grove Road in 1965 under separate charter from the college.

Christian Brothers Band

The Christian Brothers Band of Memphis is the oldest high school band in America. Br. Maurelian organized the band in 1872 and served as its first director. The band has performed for many important functions over the years, including the 1876 dedication of the Hebe Fountain in Court Square; a visit by President Grover Cleveland in 1887; aboard steamboat Kate Adams for dedication of the first railroad bridge across the lower Mississippi in 1892, a 1900 parade honoring Admiral George Dewey; so many Cotton Carnival parades that the band was recognized as the official band of that civic endeavor; the dedication of St. Jude Children's Hospital in 1962; a 1967 rally for Richard Nixon, who later was elected President; and concerts at New York's Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center during 2009. Prominent band alumni include Sun Records recording artist, arranger, and film composer Bill Justis.

Erected 2012 by Tennessee Historical Commission.