Seventh Street Colored School

The Covington School Board began provided educational facilities for African Americans students in 1873. In that year, the old Second District School building on Greer Street began to be used for this purpose. During the following year, the Kentucky Legislature passed a law providing for the education of African Americans in the Commonwealth. The new law mandated that “white and colored schools shall be forever kept and maintained separately.” By 1879, enrollment in Covington’s African American School had reached 229 and the faculty had increased from one to three. The average cost per pupil was $6 per year (Half the amount that was being spent to educate white pupils at this time).

The Covington School Board acquired property on the south side of 7th Street between Madison Ave and Scott Blvd. in 1880 for the construction of a school for the city’s growing African American population. On this site a three-story brick structure with ornamental tower was constructed. The building was dedicated on November 19, 1888. The school was named Seventh Street Colored School.

Initially, only three teachers were assigned to the Seventh Street School to teach the 200 students who enrolled. This large student to teacher ratio resulted in half day classes for the pupils. The first principal of the school was D.L.V. Moffett.

By 1893, enrolment grew to 439 and the number of faculty reached nine. In 1895, a separate high school department was established at the Seventh Street School. Classes for grades 9-11 were offered. Prior to this time, high school classes were offered only sporadically. The new high school program was called William Grant High School. William Grant was a Covington resident and member of the Kentucky State Legislature. During his election campaign, he publicly supported the effort to build the Seventh Street School.

In 1909, the Covington School build established Seventh District School in the Peaselburg neighborhood. At this time, the name of the Seventh Street Colored School was changed to Lincoln School. The high school programmed continued to be known as William Grant High School.

By the 1920s, the need for new school facilities for the African American students of Covington became apparent. The old Seventh Street building had deteriorated and was no longer large enough to house the growing number of students. A site for the new school was chosen at the corner of Scott Blvd and Ninth Street. Covington architect Charles Hilldreth designed the new brick building. Plans, however, had to be scaled back to the high cost of bids and the onset of the Great Depression. Ground for the new school was broken on May 4, 1931. The new building opened in 1932. At that time, the old Seventh Street School was closed.

Betty Lee Nordheim, Echoes of the Past: A History of the Covington Public Schools. Kentucky Post, January 15, 1996, p. 4k, Kentucky Enquirer, November 20, 1888.

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