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Past and Present

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History of Carver High School


Just before the turn of the last century, pioneering African-American residents in the fledgling town known as Linton were urging the county to educate their children.

At that point, what little schooling that existed was taught in a thatch hut.

Minutes from the Feb. 6, 1896, board meeting of the Dade County School Board (Palm Beach County would not be carved our for decades) note, “The patrons of Linton are pressing their claims for a school to be built at once.” The minutes further note: ”There are presently 25 children of school age.”

At that point, a resident named RR Frazier donated two acres of land “fee simple” near what is now NW 5th Street to the school board.

Thus was born School #4 Colored.

The school struggled mightily during its first several years and in 1907, School #4 Colored was closed for lack of attendance.

It would not reopen until 1915, under the name of Delray Training School.

Eight years later, at the urging of his mentor George Washington Carver, the renowned African-American agricultural chemist, Solomon David Spady came to Delray Beach to serve as the third principal of the school. At that point, the Training School had 100 students in grades 1-8.

Spady (1887-1967) spent the next 35 years as principal and teacher at the Training School and later, Carver High.

Under his leadership, the school steadily expanded. By 1934, the school had grown to 336 students in grades 1-10. It soon outgrew its building and in 1937 it moved to a new building on NW 8th Avenue and renamed George Washington Carver High School. The first graduating class came in 1939.

Spady retired in 1958 when the new Carver High School opened at SW 12th Avenue and SW 4th Street in Southwest Delray Beach. Today it is named the Delray Full Service Center.

Spady’s home at 170 Blacker Street (now NW 5th Ave.) was built in the mid-1920s in a Mission Revival style. It was also the first house in the neighborhood to have indoor plumbing, electricity and a telephone.

Today the building houses the S.D. Spady Cultural Arts Museum and is listed on the city’s historic register.

  1. Spencer Pompey arrived at Carver High around the opening of the new school. He served as a coach and social studies teacher for many years and was a prominent civil rights activist.

Pompey (1915-2001) fought for equal salaries between white and black teachers, protested Delray Beach’s whites-only beach in the 1950s and pushed for the first organized recreation programs for the city’s black children.

He helped organize the first African-American teachers’ union and was one of three black teachers who filed a class-action lawsuit in 1942 against the Palm Beach County School Board protesting a $25-per-month difference in the salaries of white and black teachers.

The lawyer in the case: A young NAACP attorney named Thurgood Marshall, who won and went on to become the first African American on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Carver became one of the state’s football powerhouses. Between 1947 and 1963, the Eagles won many conference titles and three straight state titles in 1961-1963. The 1962 team shut out eight of its 10 opponents and the other two scored but 19 points combined.

The site is also significant architecturally because it was designed by renowned architect Gustav A. Maass.

Maass was born in New Orleans and came to Palm Beach County in the early 1920s. He  participated in the design of railroad stations on Florida’s east and west coasts, including the Seaboard Air Line Railway Station in Delray Beach, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

He designed Carver High School in the Mid Century Modern style, and considering the fiscal constraints for buildings back in that day (Roy Simon said the school board would pay for a design that cost but $12 a square foot to build), Carver High was an architectural gem.

The original campus also could well be one of the last surviving Maass designs in Delray Beach.

Desegregation led to Carver High School’s demise in 1969. It merged with the former Seacrest High School, the predominantly white school in the city.

Seacrest students chose the new school’s name, Atlantic, and Carver students chose the teams’ mascot’s name: It would be the same as it was during Carver’s era.

Thus was born the Atlantic Eagles.

Click here to learn about Delray’s Preservation Trust is taking steps to save Carver High School.