History of Our Building
A piece of Asheville history
In 1887, the Methodist Episcopal Church Woman’s Home Missionary Society founded Allen School, an elementary school for African American children. A high school curriculum was added in 1888, and in 1897, the school was transformed into a boarding school for African American girls. Allen School was renamed Allen High School when it gained accreditation as a four-year high school in 1924, at which time, boys were again enrolled.
Famous names to attend Allen High School
Nina Simone, originally from Tryon, North Carolina, enrolled at Allen High School in 1945, and graduated in 1950 as her class valedictorian, before attending Juilliard School of Music. Named the “High Priestess of Soul,” she gifted four decades of her music and her voice to the world.
Dr. Christine Darden, born in Monroe, North Carolina, graduated valedictorian of her class in 1958 from Allen High School. She began work at NASA in 1967 as a “human computer,” and eventually became director of the Program Management Office of the Aerospace Performing Center. She is represented in the book, Hidden Figures.
Allen High School today
Allen High School closed its doors in 1974 due to a decrease in funding and enrollment following desegregation. No internal records from the school were kept, and much of what we know is based on personal memorabilia, a few public records, and alumni interviews. Allen High School has since been converted to office buildings, and is home to the Literacy Council of Buncombe County and many other organizations and businesses.