John H. Reagan Elementary, Oak Cliff’s “West End School” — 1905
by Paula Bosse
Class picture in front of the new school… (click for larger image)
by Paula Bosse
In 1904 things were getting really crowded in schools in recently-annexed Oak Cliff. The school board agreed that Dallas’ new Ninth Ward needed at least one new school, and they voted to build a four-room primary school — initially referred to as the “West End school” — at 9th and Llewellyn. After a delay in construction because of a shortage of bricks, the two-story schoolhouse opened in February, 1905. (Click photos and clippings to see larger images.)
Dallas Morning News, Feb. 18, 1905
The following month the school was named for a Confederate hero of the Civil War, John H. Reagan.
As the population of Oak Cliff grew over the years, so did the school, which expanded with additions beyond those original four rooms in order to accommodate the continual growth of the neighborhood. The building had a good run and stood for 76 years — until it was demolished at the end of 1981 (or the beginning of 1982) to make room for a new building at the same location. The new school retained the Reagan name, which has become a point of controversy in recent years.
Sources & Notes
Top photo is from the promotional booklet “Come To Dallas,” from the collection of the DeGolyer Library, SMU Libraries, Southern Methodist University; more here.
Bottom photo is from the book Education In Dallas, 1874-1966, Ninety-Two Years of History by Walter J. E Schiebel.
More on the history of Reagan Elementary and the recent controversy over whether the school should be renamed can be found in the Dec. 27, 2017 Oak Cliff Advocate article “Backstory: One Low-Income School in Oak Cliff Bears the Name of a Confederate Leader” by Rachel Stone.
For more on the then-impending demolition of the original school building, check out the Dallas Morning News archives for the story “Graduates Come to Visit School On Its Deathbed” by Keith Anderson (DMN, Sept. 14, 1981).
Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.
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How many Confederate-named schools is the board having to think about renaming? In Austin, we’ve already renamed several, including Robert E. Lee Elementary which my son attended (now renamed for FSA photographer and professor Russell Lee). Still remaining are Reagan High School, Sidney Lanier High School, Zachary T. Fulmore Elementary, and John T. Allan facility. It’s also possible Eastside Memorial High School (formerly Albert Sidney Johnston HS) will get renamed—again.
yes lets practice historic presentism. when will DISD rename Woodrow Wilson HS?