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History

The new Girls High School building replaced one of seven schools founded in 1872 as part of the original Atlanta public school system. Those schools included a girls' high, boys' high, and five elementary schools. For fifty years before the construction of their new school, Girls High operated out of the John Neal/William Lyon Mansion, used by General William T. Sherman as his headquarters during his occupation of Atlanta. The site of that mansion is now occupied by City Hall. As the school's enrollment grew during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, so did the size of the plant. Often cited as an excellent school academically despite its rambling and unsafe physical plant, Girls High was the only public high school in Atlanta for girls only.

By 1920 conditions in municipal Atlanta had reached a critical condition as lack of maintenance during the war years was compounded by a post-World War I slump. In particular, the schools had suffered severely from a combination of lack of funds and increasing enrollment. A massive bond issue of $8,850,000 of which $4,000,000 was earmarked for the schools, was passed in March 1921. The new Girls High (Roosevelt High School) was built as part of this Atlanta Board of Education initiative that resulted in a dozen or so new and remodeled schools. Edwards & Sayward, the architectural firm that designed the structure was responsible for the stylistic details of the main school building. However, the overall school construction and renovation program was the conception of A. Ten Eyck Brown, a prominent local architect who also supervised its execution. In order to save material and construction costs--and also to simplify later maintenance--most of the mechanical, service and structural elements of the school buildings built or remodeled throughout the city were standardized. Specifications for "plumbing, heating, electrical wiring, materials, typical classrooms, corridor types, stairways, toilet details, lab configurations, and other special classrooms (such as the Bank room at Girls' High) were spelled out by Brown before the bids were let."

The Girls High building, which opened in January 1925, had 104 rooms including science halls, laboratories, a business department, sewing rooms, a library, an art department, music room, and the outdoor classrooms on the third level. A model apartment contained a living/dining room, bedroom, bath and kitchenette. Twenty classrooms and individual offices for the 39 teachers were also included. Locker alcoves and two large study halls were located across the hall from the library. A school bank complete with cages, was part of the business department, and encouraged the girls to save as well as giving them an opportunity to learn the banking business. The new school building opened for classes in January 1925, and continued as a girls' high school until 1947 when Atlanta high schools became co-educational. Renamed Roosevelt High School for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the school continued as an Atlanta institution until 1985. At that time, Roosevelt was combined with Hoke Smith Technical School (located on the other side of Grant Park) and a new school building was established on the site on Glenwood Avenue just below the old school buildings, where it still stands.