Vienna High and Industrial School
Vienna High was built in the wake of the equalization school wave from the 1950s to the 1960s. Equalization schools were created after Plessy v. Ferguson in order to enforce the notion that a separate but equal policy could satisfy everyone. While most African American schools were underfunded and were in very poor conditions, equalization schools like Vienna High were built in a cost-effective Industrial-style. It was a top-notch school built to modern standards and had an expanded curriculum.
Backstory and Context
Plessy v. Ferguson was the United States Supreme Court case that upheld separate but equal accommodations by state law. Plessy was a light-skinned man of African heritage who bought a ticket for the "whites only" car on the East Louisiana railroad. Plessy was a plant by local civil rights groups and the railroad company, in hopes of getting the separate-but-equal law reformed because the railroads no longer wanted to spend money on separate cars for white and black passengers.
Georgia was unique in their push for equal funding of African American schools, Vienna High was built to serve as the African-American elementary and high school, as well as handle the over flow of training school students inhabiting the trade school on the property. Designed by Stevens and Wilkinson, who were commissioned to design 150 schools throughout Georgia, the school was built out of concrete, steel framing, brick, and is one of the largest equalization schools built.
The school served as the African American high school until integration in 1970. Interestingly, it was this African American school that became the new integrated Vienna High, whereas in most cases, it was the African American schools that shut down and the students moved to a former white school. Vienna stands out as an integrated school with an African American principal who remained principal after integration. The high school served as a source of community and pride, and with its large auditorium, it was able to host community and sporting events. The school served as an elementary school exclusively from the late 70's to its closing in 2007. It was registered as a national landmark on December 19, 2012.Vienna High school was built in a southern neighborhood between the southern railway and Georgia Route 27 on the east side of Vienna. The school is only one story high, and the building is made of poured concrete foundation with steeled frame and concrete block infill and clad brick. In the 1950s and 60s, the schools in the South embraced a strategy of massive resistance to racial integration. School were built from 1952-1962 in rural communities for African Americans. The state alone built nearly 500 elementary schools and high schools, including 1 large white school in every county. The white schools were larger and more technically advanced than the African American schools, having an improved academic curriculum and higher math, science, and extended vocalization training programs.