Sumner_High_School_(St._Louis) Latitude and Longitude:

38°39′35″N 90°14′21″W / 38.6597°N 90.2391°W / 38.6597; -90.2391
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Sumner High School
Sumner High School and football field, October 2012
4248 Cottage Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri 63113

United States
Coordinates 38°39′35″N 90°14′21″W / 38.6597°N 90.2391°W / 38.6597; -90.2391
Type Public high school
School district St. Louis Public Schools
NCES School ID2929280 [2]
PrincipalSean Nichols [1]
Faculty26.3 FTEs [2]
Enrollment267 (as of 2018–19) [2]
Student to teacher ratio10.2:1 [2]
Color(s)Maroon and White
Athletics conferencePublic High League
PublicationThe Collegiate (defunct)
Website School website
Charles Sumner High School
Location4248 W. Cottage Avenue
St. Louis, Missouri
Area5.5 acres (2.2 ha)
Built1908 (1908)
Architect William B. Ittner
Architectural style Colonial Revival
Georgian Revival
NRHP reference  No. 88000469 [3]
Added to NRHPApril 19, 1988

Sumner High School is a St. Louis public high school that was the first high school for African-American students west of the Mississippi River in the United States. Together with Vashon High School, Sumner was one of only two public high schools in St. Louis City for African-American students and was segregated. Established in 1875 only after extensive lobbying by some of St. Louis' African-American residents, Sumner moved to its current location in 1908. It has historically also been known as Charles H. Sumner High School, and Sumner Stone High School.

As of the 2018–19 school year, the school had an enrollment of 267 students and 26.3 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 10.2:1. There were 264 students (98.9% of enrollment) eligible for free lunch and 0 (0.0% of students) eligible for reduced-cost lunch. [2]


Charlton Tandy led protests of the planned siting of Sumner High School in a heavily polluted area in close proximity to a lead works, lumber and tobacco warehouses, and the train station as well as brothels. He said that black students deserved clean and quiet schools the same way white students do. [4] The location went unchanged, and Sumner High opened in 1875, the first high school opened for African Americans west of the Mississippi. [5] [6] The school is named after the well-known abolitionist senator Charles H. Sumner. [7] The high school was established on Eleventh Street in St. Louis between Poplar and Spruce Street, in response to demands to provide educational opportunities, following a requirement that school boards support black education after Republicans passed the " radical" Constitution of 1865 in Missouri [8] that also abolished slavery.

The school was moved in the 1880s because parents complained that their children were walking past the city gallows and morgue on their way to school. [9]

Cottage Avenue campus

The current structure, built in 1908, was designed by architect William B. Ittner. Sumner was the only Black public high school in St. Louis City until the opening of Vashon High School in 1927. [9] Famous instructors included Herman Dreer, [10] Edward Bouchet [11] and Charles H. Turner.

Other later Black high schools in St. Louis County were Douglass High School (opened in 1925) and Kinloch High School (1936). [12]

In 2009, St. Louis Public School Superintendent Kevin Adams proposed several options with students and parents of how to deal with the problems of the school. He recommended improvements including using Sumner alumni to mentor current students, transferring troublesome students to different schools, and setting achievable goals for the school year. [13]


On March 18, 1975, two students got in a fight and one of the students tried to shoot the other but missed and killed 16-year-old bystander Stephen Goods. [14] [15] [16]

On March 25, 1993, female student Lawanda Jackson shot and killed her ex-boyfriend Tony Hall in a school hallway. Jackson was convicted of first-degree murder and armed criminal action and was sentenced to life without parole. [17] [18] [19] [20]

On October 10, 1996, 17-year-old Lamon Jones was shot and killed by 15-year-old Kembert Thomas during a fight among several students. Thomas was convicted of second-degree murder. [21] [22] [23]

Sumner Normal School (1890–1954)

In 1890, a normal school was opened at the high school, in order to train more teachers. [24] In its early years the normal school was known as the Cottage Avenue School, and it was located on Cottage Avenue and Pendleton. [7] It also went by the name Sumner Normal School. [24] In 1929, its name was changed to Stowe Teachers College (which later merged to form Harris–Stowe State University), after author Harriet Beecher Stowe and it existed in the former Simmons Colored School campus from 1930 until 1940. [25] The normal school closed in 1954 in the wake of Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court decision ruling school segregation to be unconstitutional.


Sumner High's mascot is the Bulldog. Sumner's 1969 basketball team won the Missouri Class L state championship and featured future NBA and ABA players Harry Rogers and Marshall Rogers, [26] as well as David Brent who was a 6th round draft pick for the Los Angeles Lakers. [27] Sports that are currently offered are football, volleyball, basketball, baseball, track and field, tennis, and soccer.

Notable alumni


  1. ^ "Sumner High School / Overview". Retrieved 2013-10-16.
  2. ^ a b c d e School data for Sumner High, National Center for Education Statistics. Accessed September 1, 2020.
  3. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  4. ^ Jack, Bryan M. (February 1, 2008). The St. Louis African American Community and the Exodusters. University of Missouri Press. ISBN  9780826266163 – via Google Books.
  5. ^ a b c d "Travel Advisory; Black History in St. Louis", The New York Times, May 10, 1992. Accessed December 11, 2007. "Sumner High School, the first school west of the Mississippi for blacks, established in 1875 (among graduates are Grace Bumbry, Arthur Ashe and Tina Turner)..."
  6. ^ "Charles Sumner H.S., an American Black academic beginning". The African American Registry (AAREG). 2005. Archived from the original on October 27, 2006.
  7. ^ a b "Charles Sumner High School (St. Louis), Opens". African American Registry (AAREG).
  8. ^ Primm, James Neal. (1998). Lion of the Valley: St. Louis, Missouri, 1764-1980. St. Louis: Missouri Historical Society.
  9. ^ a b "J'S THEATER: 130 Years of Sumner High School (St. Louis)". 2005-06-14. Retrieved 2013-10-16.
  10. ^ Osby, Cheryl D.; Davis, Matthew D. (2020). "Herman H. Dreer, A Twentieth Century Black Radical Curriculum Activist". American Educational History Journal. 47 (1/2): 17, 29–45 – via Education Research Complete.
  11. ^ "Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society : Charter" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-10-16.
  12. ^ Dillon, Dan (2005). So, Where'd You Go to High School? Vol. 2: The Baby Boomer Years: 1950s-1960s. Virginia Publishing. p. 225. ISBN  978-1-891442-33-9.
  13. ^ "Newsworthy-What Will Happen to Historic Sumner High School?". Retrieved 2013-10-16.
  14. ^ "US school violence facts: List of incidents with at least one fatality from 1927 to the present".
  15. ^ "1975 SCHOOL SHOOTING: Brampton tragedy sparked calls for changes to Canada's gun laws".
  16. ^ From School Administrator to School Leader: 15 Keys to Maximizing Your Leadership Potential. Routledge. 5 June 2015. ISBN  9781317448112.
  17. ^ "Clipped from St. Louis Post-Dispatch". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 29 November 1994. p. 13.
  18. ^ "Clipped from St. Louis Post-Dispatch". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 26 March 1993. p. 7.
  19. ^ "Teen-Ager Fatally Shoots Ex-Boyfriend at School". 26 March 1993.
  20. ^ "2015, Dissertation, Pre-Crisis Assessment Team in Higher Education: Care Teams and Emerging Warning Signs of Distress and Potential Violence in College Students. — Central Michigan University Scholarly & Creative Works".
  21. ^ "from St. Louis, Missouri". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 29 January 1998. p. 10 – via
  22. ^ "The National School Safety Center's Report on School Associated Violent Deaths" (PDF). National School Safety Center. March 3, 2010.
  23. ^ "Chaney School Suspect In Killing At Sumner Certified To Be Tried As Adult". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 22 December 1996. p. 42 – via
  24. ^ a b "Events: Normal School Opens at Sumner High School". Mound City on the Mississippi, St. Louis History. Missouri State Historical Preservation Office, St. Louis Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2023-11-13.
  25. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Simmons Colored School" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved October 30, 2023. With accompanying pictures
  26. ^ "Earl's Dream High School Final Four (Who Would Win?)". Archived from the original on 2010-06-18.[ better source needed]
  27. ^ "1973 NBA Draft". 1973-04-24. Retrieved 2013-10-16.
  28. ^ Weinraub, Bernard. "Sweet Tunes, Fast Beats and a Hard Edge", The New York Times, February 23, 2003. Accessed December 11, 2007. "A significant moment in his early life was a musical performance in 1941 at Sumner High School, which had a middle-class black student body."
  29. ^ "Nate Colbert, Padres' all-time HR leader, dies at 76".
  30. ^ Haberman, Clyde, "Dick Gregory, 84, Dies; Found Humor in the Civil Rights Struggle", The New York Times, August 19, 2017: "the pioneering black satirist who transformed cool humor into a barbed force for civil rights in the 1960s". Retrieved 2017-08-20.
  31. ^ Dick Gregory , AEI Speakers Bureau. Accessed December 11, 2007. "A track star at Sumner High School, Gregory earned an athletic scholarship in 1951 to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and became the first member of his family to attend college. "
  32. ^ Dodd, Donald. "A tale of two high schools: Sumner of yesterday is a world apart from the Sumner of today", The Salem News, August 23, 2016. Retrieved February 13, 2017. "Sumner was more than up to the challenge and left a legacy. Rock and Roll Hall of Famers? Chuck Berry and Tina Turner. Wimbledon champ? Arthur Ashe. Actor? Robert Guillaume of the TV show Benson."
  33. ^ Mather, Frank Lincoln, ed., Who's Who of the Colored Race, p. 127. Chicago, 1915. Retrieved February 13, 2017. "HALEY, Victoria Clay, lecturer; born at Macon, Miss., Jan. 1, 1877; daughter of Samuel and Charlotte (Williams) Clay; grad. Sumner High School St Louis Mo 1895"
  34. ^ Owsley, Dennis (2006). City of Gabriels: The History of Jazz in St. Louis, 1895–1973. Reedy. p. 145.
  35. ^ King, Chris (2012-01-26). "Oliver Lake as poet and painter - St. Louis American: Living It". Retrieved 2013-10-16.
  36. ^ Naomi Long Madgett & Lotus Press, Broadside Lotus Press. Retrieved December 16, 2020. "A graduate of Ashland Grammar School and beginning freshman at East Orange High School, she moved again to St. Louis, Missouri where her father served as pastor of Central Baptist Church for the next four years. There she attended and graduated with honors from historic, all-black Sumner High School."
  37. ^ Robert McFerrin Sr. (1921–2006), Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture. Accessed December 12, 2007. "His father arranged for him to attend Sumner High School in St. Louis, Missouri. McFerrin intended to become an English teacher but changed his career plans after he joined the high school choir and received his first formal music instruction under chorus director Wirt Walton."
  38. ^ "St. Louis Historic Preservation".
  39. ^ Young St. Louis. Retrieved July 28, 2008. "Wendell Pruitt was a Sumner High School graduate who was a member of the Tuskegee Airmen."
  40. ^ Miller, Scott (September 24, 1992). "Tough Catches, a Tougher Life : Scott Leaves Troubles in St. Louis for an Opportunity in San Diego". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 19, 2018.
  41. ^ "Harold Wells Stats".
  42. ^ "Margaret Bush Wilson: NAACP". Retrieved 2013-10-16.