By Katy Leopard
On September 12, 1910, the first Snowden School students entered the doors of the newly constructed building, located at what is now the corner of North Parkway and McLean. At that time McLean Avenue was a 30-foot-wide road and North Parkway was graded but unimproved. Only one paved street existed in the new Evergreen neighborhood on the eastern edge of Memphis. R. Brinkley Snowden was persuaded to donate land for a new school if the Evergreen Club could prove to him that there were 175 children who would attend.
The tract of land Mr. Snowden offered to the City of Memphis in April, 1909 was valued at $12,000, yet he offered it for free upon assurance that the building would be of brick or stone, and of such size, character, and design as to be an ornament to the Evergreen neighborhood. Walk Jones, Sr. and Max Furbinger designed the original Beaux Arts building. Snowden Elementary School enrolled 172 students that first year. There were eight large classrooms, and since the desks had not arrived, the students sat on the floor.
Snowden School began as a suburban school on the far eastern reach of town and continues its tradition of excellence 100 years later in the heart of historic Midtown. Its history and growth reflect that of the neighborhood and Memphis. Snowden remains a fine school and a shining example of what public education could be in Memphis with a truly diverse student population devoted to academic excellence.
We will be celebrating our 100th anniversary all year with special events for the neighborhood, Snowden Alumni, and supporters! The festivities have already begun with a special school tour and choral performance in September. Attendees enjoyed refreshments and walks down memory lane.
A special Overton Park Levitt Shell concert to celebrate the Snowden School Centennial will be held on Saturday, October 2, from 4-6pm. Performers include Snowden Alumni, teachers, and students. This event will be followed by a regular season Levitt Shell concert by the Dirty Dozen Brass Band at 7:30pm.
Then on Monday, October 11, at 6pm, join us for a special preview of a documentary about the school, created by Evergreen resident and Snowden supporter Willy Bearden. The movie will be shown in the Snowden School auditorium and school tours will be available before and after the show from 5-7pm. Doors to the auditorium open at 5:30 so come early for a good seat!
Snowden Alumni and supporters who want to keep up with Snowden School Centennial events and receive regular updates about the school can visit our new Snowden School Foundation website at snowdenschoolfoundation.org and register.
By Katy Leopard