History of Lincoln Prep

Lincoln has had some glorious years since its founding as an elementary school (at the time of the Civil War) to its present status as a college preparatory school. In its early years, it was the only preparatory school for black students. It was organized as an elementary school in 1865 at 10th & McGee Street (McGee Addison) in a church; it served 200 blacks of all ages. This school was called Lincoln Elementary in commemoration of the great emancipator, Abraham Lincoln.

The school moved to Gay and Perry Street in 1869. In 1875 the school changed its name to Lincoln High Elementary School. In 1878 the school was moved to 11th & Campbell; Lincoln High School was organized by August Nero on the same grounds as Lincoln Elementary. Principals during the interim from 1879 –1888 included A.J. Agee, D.V.A. Nero, Parsons Brown, and S.R. Bailey. In 1880 the elementary and high school sections were placed in separate buildings. In 1885 there were four high school graduates.

In 1888 Mr. S.R. Bailey was named principal of Lincoln. It was under this leadership in 1886 that the high school department was officially organized. There is somewhat of a discrepancy that needs further research. One account indicates that Lincoln moved to 11th & Campbell in 1878 under Mr. Nero; another account suggests that Lincoln moved from Gay & Perry to 11th & Campbell in 1888 under Mr. S.R. Bailey.

During the tenure of Mr. G.R. Grisham (1890-1915) the school moved to 19th & Tracy. Mr. Grisham was actually the first principal of Lincoln High as a separate unit at 19th & Tracy. Black students came to the building from Attucks, Bruce, Douglas, Dunbar, Foster Opportunity, Garrison, Penn, Phillips, Sumner, Wheatley, and Yates. Students also came from Independence, Liberty, and Parkville, Missouri. Mr. J.R. Lee served as principal from 1915-1921. A vocational department was added in 1915.

Mr. H.O. Cook, one of the country’s most outstanding educators, became principal in 1921; he served as principal from 1921-1944. During his tenure a new building was built at 2111 Woodland during the heart of the depression years. The new school opened as a high school and junior college. The junior college functioned in this edifice until 1954 when the metropolitan junior college was integrated. With the death of Mr. Cook in 1944, Mr. George S. Ellison became principal. During this interim, graduates and undergraduates answered the call to duty in the armed forces. World War II saw many Lincolnites distinguish themselves in the line of duty. It was the duty of the principal Earl D. Thomas to relocate the junior college. At the mid-century mark (1950) Lincoln remained the only high school where black students could attend. It served the basic function as the Lincoln in the early 1900’s: serving many feeder black elementary schools (see above).

During 1954 Kansas City slowly moved to integrate its student bodies after the Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs. Topeka Board of Education. Lincoln continued to be an all-black school, serving the following feeder schools: Attucks, Greenwood, Holmes (Benton), Linwood, Longfellow, Phillips, Washington (Irving), Yates, and the new Wheatley. The opening of some previous white schools represented the outward migration of black families from previously restricted corridors.

The 1960’s saw three Lincoln High School principals following Earl D. Thomas; Harry Hartwell (1963-1968), Lawrence P. Wilson (1968), and Percy M. Caruthers (1968-1973). The 1970’s produced an equally matching succession of principals; Percy Caruthers (1968-1973), Stephen Brown (1973-1976), Marvin Brooks (1976-1978), Arnold Davenport (1978-1979), and William Rowan (1979-1981). The faculty of Lincoln was integrated in 1973.

In 1978 the most radical change in the history of the school took place. Under the guidance of Marvin Brooks, Headmaster and previous principal, the school’s student body was integrated and it became a magnet school. Arnold Davenport served as dean (principal). Under Brooks, the school’s name was changed to Lincoln Academy for Accelerated Study.

William Rowan served as Dean (1979-1981); William Love (1981-1986); Joan Caufield (1986-1989); Linda Kondris (1989-1991); Barbara Lusk (1992-1995); Teresia Gilyard (1996-1997); Dr. Lynn Kowalski (1997-1998); Harold Hawkins (1998- 2003). In 1986 the name was changed to Lincoln College Preparatory School. In over a century of serving residents of Kansas City and surroundings, Lincoln in all its various locations has a resounding nostalgia. For those who attended the Woodland building, it still remains “the castle on the hill.”