As a Leon H.S. student, you’re part of a long and rich history, steeped in tradition. Leon H.S. is the oldest, continuously accredited high school in Florida.
In 1827, the first Leon Academy (for boys) was opened, and it operated until the 1840’s. A private school for girls, the Leon Female Academy, located on Bronough Street, was incorporated in 1845. This Academy operated until 1858, when the West Florida Seminary for boys absorbed it and admitted girls. This was the beginning of coed education in the capital city.
In 1871, the Board of Public Instruction for Leon County opened a new Leon Academy for white students (a public school for black students had been established around 1869). The Leon Academy educated students from elementary grades through the first two years of high school. After completing two years of high school most students finished the last two years of high school at the West Florida Seminary. Leon High School finally achieved racial integration in fall of 1963.
By 1885, a $7,000 two-story brick building with four main rooms, two classrooms and six cloak closets was constructed. Children brought their own lunches or walked home to eat; they also provided their own books and supplies. In the winter, the school was heated by pot-bellied, wood burning stoves, and in the summer, it was cooled by opening windows on either side of the room. This Leon Academy was situated on the south side of West Tennessee Street between Duval and Bronough Streets.
On August 22, 1903, the Board of Public Instruction of Leon County passed a resolution establishing a 12-grade high school known as the Leon Graded and High school, which was open to Leon County students free of tuition. The old Academy building was renovated for use in 1905, and the first kindergarten class in the state of Florida began as a part of the Leon Graded and High School. Miss Kate Sullivan and Miss Caroline Brevard were among the first teachers at the new school.
Over time the student population outgrew this location, and a new site for Leon High School was purchased on the southwest corner of Park Avenue (where the current LeRoy Collins Public Library now stands). The school opened its doors in 1911 and was considered one of the most “complete and well-arranged” schools in the state.
Aerial view of Leon High School – Tallahassee, Florida 1937.
Leon High School was one of the first schools in the State of Florida to institute a physical education program, and in 1917 Leon had its first football team. By 1921, Student Council (Student Government) was a strong program whose sponsor was Mrs. Augusta Raa.
In 1928, Mode Stone was hired as Principal of Leon High School and he led the campaign to build a new Leon High School. By 1936 the new high school was under construction and there was much controversy. Most people said, “It’s too far out of town” (at that time Tennessee Street, Miccosukee Rd. and Meridian Streets were pasture and swamp land); they also said it was way too expensive (the cost was $500,000) and the locals were sure that there would never be enough students to fill the structure.
In 1937, the WPA project was complete and Leon High School opened its doors to the citizens of Tallahassee and Leon County. Leon is still an architecturally beautiful and functional school, and, in 1993, it earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.