Founded in 1909 as Charlotte High School, this institution was originally located in the Uptown area of Charlotte, and was one of the first high schools in the city. By 1920, due to an increase in enrollment, school administrators began planning for a new facility that could comfortably serve the growing student population.
"By 1923, a new high school, called Central High School, was built by Lockewood-Greene and Company (architects), and J.A. Jones Company (contractor) on Elizabeth Avenue. Central High School, on Elizabeth Avenue, was for white students, and Second Ward High School, on Alexander Street, was for African American students." (Charlotte Mecklenburg Library)
For more information about Second Ward High School, visit the Carver College tab or click here.
Athletics programs are a huge component of American high school life. While residing on Elizabeth Avenue, Central High had record-breaking seasons in football, baseball, and track. Notably, alumni Jim Beatty (Graduate of 1953) was the first male track runner to run the four-minute mile on an indoor track. By 1959, Central High School was moved out of the Elizabeth Avenue facility and relocated to the then-newly built Garinger High School. Central Piedmont still has a thriving relationship with Garinger High School, providing opportunities for high school students to obtain college credit at any of our campuses.
Today, the history of Central High School lives on through the various alumni groups.
Some of the materials in this exhibition were generously donated to Central Piedmont Archives from the Central High School, Class of 1953.
From 1946 to 1961, Charlotte College (later known as UNC Charlotte) operated out of the Central High School building. The following is an excerpt from UNC Charlotte's J. Murrey Atkins Library.
UNC Charlotte is one of a generation of universities founded in metropolitan areas of the United States immediately after World War II in response to rising education demands generated by the war and its technology. To serve returning veterans, North Carolina opened 14 evening college centers in communities across the state. The Charlotte Center opened Sept. 23, 1946, offering evening classes to 278 freshmen and sophomore students in the facilities of Charlotte’s Central High School. After three years, the state closed the centers, declaring that on-campus facilities were sufficient to meet the needs of returning veterans and recent high school graduates. Charlotte's education and business leaders, long aware of the area’s unmet needs for higher education, moved to have the Charlotte Center taken over by the city school district and operated as Charlotte College, offering the first two years of college courses. Later the same leaders asked Charlotte voters to approve a two-cent tax to support that college.
Charlotte College drew students from the city, Mecklenburg County and from a dozen surrounding counties. The two-cent tax was later extended to all of Mecklenburg County. Ultimately financial support for the college became a responsibility of the State of North Carolina. As soon as Charlotte College was firmly established, efforts were launched to give it a campus of its own. With the backing of Charlotte business leaders and legislators from Mecklenburg and surrounding counties, land was acquired on the northern fringe of the city and bonds were passed to finance new facilities. In 1961, Charlotte College moved its growing student body into two new buildings on what was to become a 1,000-acre campus 10 miles from downtown Charlotte.
Three years later, the North Carolina legislature approved bills making Charlotte College a four-year, state-supported college. The next year, 1965, the legislature approved bills creating the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, the fourth campus of the statewide university system. In 1969, the university began offering programs leading to master’s degrees. In 1992, it was authorized to offer programs leading to doctoral degrees. Now a research intensive university, UNC Charlotte is the fourth largest of the 16 institutions within the University of North Carolina system and the largest institution in the Charlotte region.