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GREGORY INSTITUTE. The Gregory Institute, a high school for black children in Houston, was named for the man who donated the land for it, Gen. Edgar M. Gregory, first assistant commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau in Texas. The building was a plain four-room brick structure on Jefferson Avenue between Smith and Louisiana streets. The Texas legislature incorporated the Gregory Institute in August 1870. Richard Allen, representative from Houston, probably played a major role in the passage of the incorporation act and was one of the first commissioners for the private school.
After the institute's incorporation, all of the schools established by the Freedmen's Bureau in Harris County were abolished, and the pupils attending them were transferred to Gregory Institute. Largely as a result of the institute's status, Harris County had the largest number of black students in school in Texas in 1871—734 males and 760 females.
On January 23, 1875, a committee was appointed by the mayor of the Houston to look into the possibility of establishing a system of free schools in Houston. From this committee came a recommendation to establish five districts closely corresponding to the five wards in the city and to establish one white and one black school in each district. The committee also recommended a high school for each race. The two high schools that evolved from this report were the academy for whites and the Gregory Institute for blacks. Following the dictates of a city ordinance of May 4, 1876, the city of Houston assumed control of all public schools. Gregory Institute became part of the public school system of Houston in September 1876.
Ira Babington Bryant, Jr., The Development of the Houston Negro Schools (Houston: Informer, 1935). Mary Alice Lavender, Social Conditions in Houston and Harris County, 1869–1872 (M.A. thesis, Rice Institute, 1950). Fred R. von der Mehden, The Ethnic Groups of Houston (Houston: Rice University, 1984). WPA Writers Program, Houston (Houston: Anson Jones, 1942).
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Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on February 27, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.