Dear Vance:  I recently purchased a 1922 yearbook for Crockett Technical High School.  I'd never heard of it.  Where was this school in Memphis?

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Response to the Ask Vance article:  Click on the "numbers" for verification of the facts.

Your article does contain a lot of the facts, but they’re just a little bit confusing.  I’ll try to add to your story and clarify the facts.

The “relic” the gentleman purchased is the Dynamo, the 1922 yearbook of Crockett Technical High and not a relic of the first high school.  The first high school is indeed Memphis High School, but that name never changed.  It was just dropped when there was no longer just ONE high school.  However, one could say that every high school built in Memphis after 1911 goes back to the original Memphis High School.

When the new Central opened in 1911, it was to be the first of several planned high schools in the greater Memphis area, so the Memphis High School name was no longer pertinent and it was retired.(1)  This left the Poplar Avenue building vacant and the board had no real need for the building.  So they created the NEW Vocational Grammar and High School, specifically for the building, and  “to take the load off Central so those other high schools wouldn’t have to be built for some time”.(2), (3), (4)

So both the new Central and the new Vocational School opened at exactly the same time – September 1911. (5)  Of course, the Vocational School is definitely the forerunner of Tech and the Poplar Avenue building became so identified with Tech that most folks think Tech is as old as the building.

The name Crockett was added in honor of Mrs. E. J. Crockett, a prominent early Memphis educator, who was a long time principal of the Memphis High School. (6)

The Van Vleet mansion was torn down in 1927 and the new Memphis Technical High opened in September 1928.(7), (8)  The Board of Education uses this date as the founding of Tech – simply because it’s the date of the new building and the final name for the school.  But everybody knows that Tech goes back to that original Vocational School.  A lot of folks continue to think it’s older, but it’s not.

Gene Gill, Tech 1951 - November 2010

(1)  Memphis City Directories
(2) Board of Education Publication 1916-17

(3) 1911 Newspaper Article

(4) Board of Education "Progress Booklet" 1916-17.
(5)  Board of Education Publication 1916-17
(6) Board of Education Publication 1917-17

(7) Tech Sentinel 1927

(8) Tech Sentinel 1927