History of Lincoln Institute/Central High School/ Natchitoches Parish Training School
1910: Professor J. W. Thomas came to Natchitoches, Louisiana. A committee of African American citizens headed by Professor Thomas bought a portion of land located on Jackson Square in the City of Natchitoches, for the purpose of erecting a school building for Black boys and girls.
1912: A three-room frame building was completed. The citizens celebrated the opening of their private school, which they named Lincoln Institute, with dedicatory exercises. The school, under the leadership of a faculty composed of three members, struggled along through the years with high hopes and aspirations.
1919: The Board of Trustees of Lincoln Institute deeded the property to the Natchitoches Parish School Board. One more room was then added to the school and another teacher was hired bringing the total to four teachers.
The history of Negro Education in Natchitoches Parish would be incomplete without mentioning the contributions of Julius Rosenwald, the philanthropist, whose bequeathed funds to Help Mankind. This fund furnished a stimulus which enabled the public school authorities to advance the cause of Black education. The only school buildings provided for Blacks in Natchitoches Parish was based upon the contributions of the Rosenwald Fund. (The above information was taken from an original paper written by Mrs. Odile Cage Ward.)
1925: A new seven room structure was erected by the Natchitoches Parish School Board with the aid of the Rosenwald Fund and the teaching staff was increased to nine. The first high school work began and Lincoln Institute became Natchitoches Parish Training School. The Training School offered a number of career education classes, among other studies.
1930: The Board hired teachers who were college graduates to help improve the quality of education. Among that new group were Melton Sterling, Mrs. Lola M. Carter, Miss. Bessie Britton, Mrs. Portia Conrad and Frederick M. Richardson.
1934: Several new services were provided for enhancing education. The first Jeanes Supervisor, Dr. Kara Vaughn Jackson, was hired; the First Career Education projects, Maid Classes were started by Mrs. Beatrice L. Breda and a twelfth grade class was added which was taught by Mrs. Odile Cage Johnson Ward. The twelfth grade class was considered the first year of college for Louisiana State Negro Normal presently Grambling State University.
1935: An older theater across the street (Lee) from the school was brought and converted into an Industrial Workshop for boys. Frank Martinez and later James V. Emanuel were hired as instructors. During that year, Alcee Vaughn coached the football team, the basketball team, and other athletics. A marching band was also established. Mr. Vaughn later served as sponsor of the Class of 1953. The first school paper, The Tosh, was published.
1935: The Parish School Board with the assistance of the Public Works Administration erected a $50,000 frame structure. The building housed the Administration offices and the elementary school. The additional building and an increase in the student body necessitated an increase to 20 faculty members
1939: Twenty two instructors, including an agricultural instructor were added. Over the years, as the enrollment increased, a new building was erected. Gaddis Hall became the principal and later Mr. F. M. Richardson. The J. W. Thomas Apartments presently sit on that site.)
1950: Graduation of the first Class to complete 12 full years at the Natchitoches Parish Training School.
1952: The construction of a modern brick building.
1953: Natchitoches Parish Training School was renamed Central High School. F. M. Richardson became the principal. The enrollment increased greatly because Black students were now riding busses to school and more emphasis was placed on the need and value of a high school education. (The building is now the location of the Self-Help Shopping Center.)
The Class of 1953 was the first group to spend a full year in the Central High School building. However, Class of 1953 was not the first class to receive diplomas from Principal Mr. F. M. Richardson.
In the 60s, the Supreme Court decided that the Natchitoches Parish School Board must erect a modern round brick structure for Blacks, so Blacks could have separate but equal facilities. The attendance continued to grow and a new Central High School building was completed on Welch Street.
1969: Graduated the first class from the newly constructed Central High School.
1970: After a Supreme Court decree, the new Central High School on Welch Street and the Natchitoches High School on College Avenue were integrated creating Natchitoches Central High School. The schools operated on two (2) campuses by having classes meet on each campus on alternate days. In May of this same year, the Class of 1970 was the last graduating class of the historical all black school Central High School.
1971: The first fully integrated class of Natchitoches Central High School celebrated graduation ceremonies.
1981: A new two-story brick building opened for all students in grades ten (10) through twelve (12) on property obtained from Northwestern State University (The Normal). This school is located at 300 Highway 3110 or Highway 1 Bypass, just back of Northwestern State University and next to the Natchitoches Technical College (Natchitoches Central Area Trade School).
Natchitoches Central High School still exists for all students in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana from grades nine (9) through twelve (12).
2009: The round building on Welch Street, formerly Central High School, was renamed Frankie Ray Jackson, Sr. Technical Center.
Edited and submitted by LNC Reunion 2010