George Washington Carver High School and Junior College (850 Hungerford Drive) was the only modern secondary educational facility constructed for black students in Montgomery County. When the school opened in September 1951, it also became the first, last, and only institution for post-secondary Negro education in the County.
The location of Carver, just northeast of the historic black community of Haiti, was appropriate for a racially segregated school system which foresaw no change in the “separate but equal” philosophy. Carver was the first County public school to be named for a black individual, a matter of great pride to the community. The name was selected by the student body of Lincoln High School in a school-wide contest.
The construction of Carver marked the culmination of decades of persistence by the Negro community on behalf of their children for a facility on par with those for white students. Carver’s curriculum provided students with the skills, education, and opportunities previously unavailable. As the only County institution for hundreds of Negro secondary and post-secondary students, Carver played a vital role in forging lasting social and professional bonds. From all over Montgomery County buses collected black students, many of whom had to spend three or four travel hours each day.
To Montgomery County black citizens and the school’s alumni, Carver High School is a symbol of the coming of age educationally, socially, and politically of Montgomery County’s Negro community. It identifies the end of an era of substandard facilities for Negro students.
After desegregation, Carver high school students were transferred to formerly all-white schools throughout the County. Carver Junior College merged with Montgomery Junior College, although black students continued to only attend classes at Carver for many years.
When the Board of Education took over the facility in 1961 for use as its administrative headquarters, the name George Washington Carver was abandoned. However, Carver-Lincoln alumni, supported by the NAACP and black churches, succeeded in persuading the Board to reinstate the original name.
Although there have been numerous additions to the building, the first occurring immediately after construction, the main east facade appears much as it did when the facility opened in 1951. The structure evinces elements of the International Style in its horizontality, simple streamlined design, flat roofs, and ribbons of steel casement windows. The school shares a campus with Rock Terrace, formerly an elementary school for black students.
Now home to the administrative offices for the Montgomery County Board of Education, Carver has continued in educational use for nearly fifty years. The Lincoln Park Civic Association and Peerless Rockville nominated the Carver campus for designation as a Rockville Historic District. In 2002, it was designated a local historic district.
Our thanks to Bessie Corbin, former teacher at Carver and current president of the Lincoln Park Civic Association, for sharing her first-hand experiences at Carver.