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Atlanta Constitution image of Fulton County High School on Washington Street

When construction on Fulton County High School on Washington Street was finally completed after over a year, it was considered “one of the largest and most modern school structures in the entire southeast.” The school in 1925 was built with two stories and fireproof construction to deal with previous congestion in older buildings. The building would also have steel lockers for all its students, a vast cafeteria with 400 students, and an auditorium with 1,200 people. The cost of the building was half a million dollars compared to today’s money, which would cost between eight to nine million dollars. This building would serve all the kids in Fulton County, even those outside Atlanta’s city limits, like East Point and College Park. At the time, there were 740 students enrolled. 1

Previously, the high school was on Whitehall Street and had many other suitors for its location. Still, the superintendent decided to be on Washington Street because it would better serve the community than outside city limits.2 The school’s surrounding area also affected its location because it was highly residential with little commercial infrastructure. The Sanborn map below shows the small amount of commercial space from 1950.

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1950s Sanborn Map of the area surrounding Fulton High School

Highway Planning

As early as 1939, High School students were already thinking about the highways the state and highway planning were to build. High schoolers were sent a questionnaire to complete by their parents as homework. The questionnaire asked fathers and mothers what routes they used when driving and how much mileage they had used in the past year. O.T. Ray, the director of the highway planning division, also sent a map of Georgia to parents so they could provide more accurate accounts of their mileage and road usage. State officials and highway planners sent the questionnaire to all the schools within city limits, Fulton County, and 130 other counties in Georgia. The questionnaire was meant to check the amount and type of driving and whether the highways and road development funds were “deriving benefits proportionate for their expenditures in taxes.” However, schools within the planned area, like Fulton High School, were given another type of homework along with the questionnaire. Their additional homework asked parents without cars to interview neighbors who didn’t have children in the high schools.3

Fulton County High School Moves

The school had already moved twice: from its original opening in 1914 to Whitehall Street in 1916 and again to Washington Street in 1926. It would have to find a new home, especially with the highway construction going forward in their previous building on Washington Street. The Atlanta Labor Temple bought Washington Street in 1949.4 They moved to their new building on Jonesboro Road in 1951. The new building would come with some changes, like changing the name to Fulton instead of Fulton County High School, and it would also give students a football field, gymnasium, and new auditorium. 5

What Happened to the Washington Street Building?

Not much could be found after the building was sold to the Atlanta Labor Temple, but we can safely assume it would eventually be demolished for the highways. The area that used to be the home of Fulton County High School during its tenure on Washington Street is now Interstate 20. It would now be between west and east Interstate 20, Washington Street SW, and West I-20 connector to 85 and 75 south. It is wild to think that this area used to be mainly residential and even had what used to be considered “one of the largest and most modern school structures in the entire southeast.” And now it is home to impressive concrete spaghetti roads and highways sprinkled with greens.

  1. “New Fulton County High School Near Completion on Washington Street.” 1925.The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Dec 05, 9. ↩︎
  2. Ibid… ↩︎
  3. Drake, Frank. “High School Students to Aid Highway Planning: Pupils to Fill in Questionnaire about Why, Where Mother and Father Drive Fantily Auto.” The Atlanta Constitution (1881-1945), Mar 23, 1939. ↩︎
  4. “Labor Temple Group Votes Property Buy.” The Atlanta Constitution (1946-1984), Jul 08, 1949. ↩︎
  5. Smith, Marjory. “New Fulton High School Shows Value of Planning.” The Atlanta Constitution (1946-1984), Sep 08, 1951. ↩︎