Martin Luther King Jr Magnet School (former Pearl High School) - Nashville TN
Presently known as Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet High School, Nashville’s historic Pearl High School was built in 1936-37 with federal Public Works Administration (PWA) funds.
Pearl High School was built expressly to serve Nashville’s African American community (which was wholly segregated at the time). It was described at the time as the finest school for Blacks in the South, according to the University of South Carolina Museum of Education.
Designed by the nation’s first African American architecture firm of McKissack & McKissack, the school features a “stripped classicism highlighted by creative, abstract grillwork in an Art Deco manner above the central entrance” (Van West, 2001, p. 102).
Pearl High School remained an all-black school until 1971. It was closed in 1983, then reopened in 1986 as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Magnet School.
The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Van West, C. (2001). Tennessee’s New Deal Landscape: A Guidebook. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press.
Southern Places. Listing for Pearl High School, Nashville. https://digital.mtsu.edu/digital/collection/p15838coll4/id/629/
Project originally submitted by Susan C. Allen on December 17, 2014.
Additional contributions by Richard Walker.
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