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Fort Worth Flashback: Guinn School educated black children for 63 years

Posted Feb. 13, 2014

[Guinn school]

In honor of Black History Month, each week in February Fort Worth Flashback will take a look at the role of African-American leaders in our city’s history.

After Fort Worth public schools were organized in the fall of 1882, black students continued to be taught in black churches for more than a year. The city completed a schoolhouse for blacks on East Ninth Street at Elm in December 1883.

The son of a former slave, James Elvis Guinn was born in Fort Worth. Though neither of them could read nor write, his parents placed great value on education, and James attended Fort Worth’s early schools for blacks. He later pursued a college degree and became a professor of chemistry at Prairie View College, now Prairie View A&M University.

Guinn returned to Fort Worth as principal of South Side Colored School in 1900. Construction of a new three-story brick school building, designed by the prominent architectural firm of Sanguinet and Staats, began at the corner of Louisiana and Rosedale Avenues in April 1917.

Shortly before its completion, Guinn died on July 11, 1917. Six days later the school board voted to name the new school building James E. Guinn School in his honor. It was the largest black school in Fort Worth in 1930. After 63 years of service, it was closed in 1980.

This class photo of students in front of James E. Guinn School is from the 1920s.

The Fort Worth Library has approximately 10,000 items pertaining to the history of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. These items include city and county government documents, newspapers, directories, cemetery association records, maps as well as popular and scholarly books written by local authors or about local subjects. To learn more, call 817-392-7740 or email the Genealogy, History and Archives Section.

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