February is Black History Month and the City of Baytown is recognizing some of the community’s important leaders through a series of articles featured on the City’s website.
We kick off the month showcasing George Washington Carver High School. The school, named after the scientist and inventor, is located in the Oak Addition near Carver Street and Lee Drive. The grade school was originally called Goose Creek School for Coloreds in 1921. Six years later it became the only high school to ever serve Baytown’s black community. The school had to be expanded for a high school, so additional land was purchased from Charles Massey for $150. A small, 9-room school was built for a little more than $5,600. In 1945, a new school was approved for more than $228,000.
Ernest Alvin Archia was the first principal of Carver High School. He was the driving force in growing the small school from nine teachers, that only taught up to ninth grade, to a school of 24 teachers with the full 12 grades. The high school would remain open until 1967 due to the end of desegregation. The school reverted back to an elementary school until 1995, when an old oil storage pit was found at the school. The old school was demolished and a new Carver Elementary was constructed nearby.
In 2011, more than 80 years after it was established, the high school was recognized with a Texas Historical Marker, the first one in Baytown recognizing the heritage of African Americans in the city.
Some notable alumni of Carver High School include former Ambassador to Bahrain Alfred Fonteneau, former NFL player Gene Washington, accomplished engineer Houston Fontenot, Jr. as well as blues musicians Tony Russell “Charles” Brown and Joe Tex.
All alumni, including historian J. Warren Singleton, will be honored at this year’s two-day Juneteenth celebration.
Look for more articles this month as we highlight Baytown’s Black leaders who have had a pivotal role in our community and country.