School History

Dr. William Henry Spencer

Dr. William Henry Spencer was born on September 21, 1857 in Columbus, Georgia. He was a student in the Columbus public school system, the old Ashbury Chapel, during the age of segregation. Dr. Spencer was an exemplary student who excelled in school and attained high honors. After obtaining his teaching certificate, he embarked on a fifty-year career in education.

As an educator, Dr. William Henry Spencer was the principal of the former Fifth Avenue School and the supervisor of the Negro Educational Department. He was dedicated to improving the curriculum of segregated schools and worked to establish courses in the fine arts and vocational arena.

Since African-American students in Columbus, Georgia had to travel as far as Atlanta to move beyond the ninth grade, Dr. Spencer began working towards opening an accredited high school for African-Americans in Columbus. Dr. Spencer’s determination result in the fruition of the aforementioned school. Sadly, he passed away on May 30, 1925, five years before the school was built. The school was originally built on Tenth Avenue, and it was named William Henry Spencer High School in his honor.

William Henry Spencer High School – The Living Legend

The first Spencer High School was built on 10th Avenue at 8th Street. This building remained until it was destroyed by fire. The building was the home of Marshall Junior High school until it burned. Spencer High School was relocated to 1830 Shepherd Drive in 1953.

1953 – 1978
The second Spencer High School was located at 1830 Shepherd Drive (now Marshall Junior High School). In the 70’s the Muscogee County School Board voted to close Spencer High School and move the Spencer students to a new high school located at 4340 Victory Drive. The name of this new high school was to be the Southwest High School, and its colors were to be Blue and White. A group of young men by the name of the Golden Owls came to the rescue.  Their appearance before both the School Board and City Council convinced both not to eliminate the name of Spencer High School and its Green and Gold.

1978 – 2018
The third Spencer High School was located at 4340 Victory Drive. The complex was designed to accommodate about 1,000 students. The site has the potential, through expansion, to accommodate up to 1,500 students.

2018 – Present

The new William H. Spencer High School is located at 1000 Fort Benning Drive. The $55 million new school includes three floors of classrooms – all of which are equipped with a 55-inch smart board touch screen. Currently, over 900 students attends the new Spencer, but the school can hold up to 1100. 

Spencer High School Information furnished by: Spencer High School Alumni Association, 1991

June 2024

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