History of Henry Clay High School


Celebrating over 115 years, Henry Clay High School has served the Lexington community since 1904, under three different names and in four different locations (five counting a temporary one in 1908-1909).

At the turn of the twentieth century there was no public high school in Lexington. The five city schools for white children and three for African-American children offered courses of study through eighth grade. Two schools for whites, Dudley and Johnson, had added two years of high school courses. Sentiment was growing, though slowly, in favor of establishing a high school to meet the needs of a developing city and of students preparing for college.

In 1904 a four-year high school was opened in the old Morton School (established in 1834) building, at the corner of Short and Walnut Streets. Morton High School occupied that building until 1908 when a new building replaced it to relieve overcrowding.

The high school remained there until 1918. That year the ten-year-old building became Morton Junior High School and the high school was re-named Lexington High School as it moved to yet another new building, at the corner of Fourth and Limestone Streets. In 1928 that newest building became Lexington Junior High School and the high school moved to an-other new structure on East Main Street, where it adopted its third and present name because of its proximity to the statesman’s home, Ashland. Its fourth move to the present location occurred in 1970, by which time the city schools had been merged with the Fayette County Public Schools.

From a first-year enrollment of 192 in 1904 to its more recent figures near 2,400, the school has grown in number of students and faculty and in the size of its campus. It has also grown in its reputation as a school which has been able to change and adapt to the times, and to prepare each succeeding generation for its role in a fast-changing world.

The school has consistently excelled in the academic area, and has won recognition for its athletics, drama, music, speech, and other programs. A high percentage of its graduates continue their education in post-secondary institutions, fulfilling the dream of some of Lexington’s leaders in the late 1890s that a high school should be built to prepare its youth for just such education.

Rich in tradition and proud of its heritage, Henry Clay High School has completed its first century and is poised to meet the needs and challenges of its second one.

Ellen Claire Allen

2006 Henry Clay Directory