West End High School was a high school in the Birmingham City Schools system located on a 12.5-acre site at 1840 Pearson Avenue Southwest in West End. The red-brick school was built in 1930 to designs by the noted firm of Warren, Knight & Davis with David O. Whilldin and an outside consultant. It adjoined Robert E. Lee Elementary School.
West End’s athletic teams were known as the Lions. The school’s yearbook was entitled the Resume.
In 1949 Warren, Knight and Davis completed plans for the auditorium constructed on the top floor of the main building and a new gymnasium to be constructed to the west of the school, connected by a covered walkway.
The school, which was open originally to white students only, was integrated in September 1963.
On June 27, 1982 West End alumnus and astronaut Henry Hartsfield Jr carried a West End banner into orbit aboard the space shuttle Columbia.
In 2001 then-superintendent Johnny E. Brown proposed merging West End High School and Wenonah High School into a new high school in Oxmoor Valley. The Board of Education approved the name ‘Martin Luther King, Jr High School” for the new building, but the consolidation plan was successfully opposed by community groups who feared that vacating the old buildings would damage their neighborhoods.
Part of the school was damaged by a fire which broke out in the basement on January 24, 2003. It was suspected that the fire was intentionally set.
Under a 2008 school consolidation plan proposed by acting superintendent Barbara Allen and approved by the Board, West End High closed after that academic year with students transferring to Wenonah, Parker and Jackson-Olin High Schools.
The closing was marked by a ceremony on June 7 with a parade, pep rally, picnic and alumni basketball game. A contract with Meredith Environmental Inc. for demolition of the school building was approved by the Board of Education on December 9, 2008 and began the following March.
With faith and loyalty
Stands our alma-mater
Stands old West End High
Pride of each student
May she ever be
Hail to our alma-mater
Dear old West End High
Elbert Morrow, –2005
Allen Lewis, 2005–2008
- Ruisi, Anne (May 2001) “Neighborhood leaders remain opposed to plans to close school.” The Birmingham News
- Crowder, Carla (September 2001) “Big, new West End School opposed.” The Birmingham News
- Kemp, Kathy (April 6, 2008) “Web helps West End High live on.” The Birmingham News
- Ruisi, Anne (May 18, 2008) “Birmingham’s West End High School gets set to close its doors.” The Birmingham News
- Ruisi, Anne (April 6, 2008) “‘We are heartbroken’: West End High gets ready to close doors.” The Birmingham News
West End High School was well known in the Birmingham area for its basketball program. The Lions won two straight class 6A State titles in the 1996-97 and 1997-98 school years.
West End was also the last Birmingham City School to compete in the class 6A title game in American football during the 1993-94 school year. The Lions finished 13-2 that year and they were led by a defense dubbed the “dog pound.”
Earl Bennett, NFL football player
Ben Cook, sportswriter
T. R. Dunn, NBA basketball player
Kathy Kemp, Birmingham News columnist
Hank Hartsfield, astronaut
Keith McCord, NBA basketball player
Andra Sparks, circuit court judge and minister
Cedric Sparks, Birmingham Department of Youth Services director
Charles Speir, attorney, retailer, banker and developer
Debbie Voltz, dean of UAB School of Education
Frank Wagner (1948), Birmingham Parks & Recreation Board director
Ann Waldron, author and reporter
Ray Watts, President of UAB
James Williams, radio announcer
John Ed Willoughby, radio host
Construction of West End High School, c. 1929. Courtesy Birmingham Public Library