Posts tagged “Lincoln High School

Celebrating Juneteenth by remembering Lincoln High

1945 Panthers Football Team

By Kelli Nesbitt, Parks & Recreation Marketing Coordinator

With Friday commemorating the sesquicentennial of Juneteenth, it’s fitting that we also celebrate the 40th anniversary of College Station’s Lincoln Recreation Center.

Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the end of slavery in the United States, and since it started in Texas, we should proudly proclaim it as uniquely ours. As part of that celebration, let’s look back at the proud history of what began as Lincoln High School.


More than 2,000 people came to Brazos County as slaves. Formal education didn’t exist until the Public Schools Act of 1871, but by 1923, 127 African-American students were enrolled in the A&M Consolidated School District. The district accommodated only elementary school students until it began busing pupils to Bryan’s Kemp High School.

In the 1930s, the number of African-American students steadily grew along with tuition and transportation costs. After approval in the 1941 bond election, the school district purchased five acres of land for $500 to build a high school.

The A&M Consolidated Negro School opened its doors for the 1941-42 academic year and had six classrooms, a principal’s office, and a homemaking cottage. The school continued to flourish and expanded to 296 children and 10 teachers. In 1945, the school purchased a small plot of land a block away for an athletic field.

The following year, the school’s name was changed to Lincoln High School, and Willie A. Tarrow was named principal. Tennis courts, an industrial arts shop, a science building, and a gymnasium were added in the next decade.

Social Hub

Lincoln High School served as the social hub for College Station’s black community and developed a distinctive personality as it grew. The school colors were purple and gold, and students chose the panther as their mascot. The memorable motto was, “Forward forever, backward never,” and its song was, “O’ Lincoln High.”

Discussions about integrating the A&M Consolidated School District began in 1956. After a series of meetings and seminars, officials adopted a wait-and-see approach. In the early 1960s, the school district received notice that the NAACP was requesting immediate integration of the city’s schools.

The district’s integration plan used a stair-step method through which black elementary students would be fused with white elementary students one grade at a time. Each year, a new class would leave Lincoln and become integrated. Attendance at Lincoln became voluntary.

Two of Lincoln’s teachers were reassigned to A&M Consolidated High School, and several white teachers were relocated to Lincoln. By 1965, grades 1-2 had been phased into the A&M Consolidated school system.

Devastating Fire

In early 1966, a fire destroyed one of the three classroom buildings, displacing 100 students. The facilities weren’t rebuilt, and the fire’s cause was never determined, although some speculated it was intentionally set to hasten integration. The local newspaper claimed several mysterious fires were started by an unknown arsonist around that time.

At the end of the 1965-66 school year, Lincoln’s doors were closed for good. The remaining students were integrated into other A&M Consolidated schools.

In 1967, an informal agreement between the City of College Station and the school district allowed the property to be used temporarily as a city park. Small church groups used the buildings for occasional gatherings. A year later, the school district agreed to lease the land and facilities to the city for 10 years. The College Station Parks and Recreation Department moved into Lincoln, and the facilities were used for continuing education classes and as a neighborhood recreation center.

City property next to the school became a sports field. The homemaking cottage served as the department’s office, and the industrial arts shop was converted into a maintenance shop. The city bought the land in 1978 and completely refurbished the buildings.

Lincoln Recreation Center

In 1980, the Lincoln Recreation Center was officially dedicated, serving as a tribute to the school that once stood on the site. The center is home for many community activities, including youth and senior programs, an immunization program, and an emergency management site.

Still, the memories and influences of Lincoln High School remain, and its many trophies are proudly displayed. As the first and only African-American high school in College Station, the building proudly displays an official Texas historical subject marker for African-American education.

In 1982, former students formed the Lincoln Former Students Association. In addition to organizing biennial reunions, the group provides scholarships for black students and is dedicated to preserving their heritage and memories.

A $4.3 million expansion was completed in 2019, adding a new gymnasium, additional office and meeting space, and other improvements and renovations. Today, the Lincoln Recreation Center continues its rich legacy of learning, community pride, and freedom.

Reference: Lincoln School “Black Education in College Station,” was started by Jean Clark Robinson and completed by Debbie Joystick.


About the Blogger

Kelli Nesbitt (@kneztalk) has served the Parks & Recreation Department for 15 years, the last eight as marketing coordinator. A native of Bryan, Kelli earned a bachelor’s degree in health & kinesiology from Sam Houston State.


If you found value in this blog post, please share it with your social network and friends!


Renewed Lincoln Rec Center celebration set for Aug. 3

By Cheletia Johnson, Lincoln Recreation Center Supervisor

“We pledge a better school to be, O’ Lincoln how we love you.”

The closing line from the former Lincoln High’s school song still rings true more than 70 years later. The Lincoln Recreation Center’s $3.4 million expansion and renovation extends the Texas historical site’s long tradition of education and fellowship for future generations.

We invite you to join us as we celebrate, cherish and explore the renewed Lincoln Recreation Center at a grand opening ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 3, from 10 a.m.-noon at 1000 Eleanor St. The event also features the College Station Police Department’s Back to School Rally.

Ribbon-cutting will be at 10 a.m., followed by guided facility tours every half hour, starting at 10:30. CSPD will provide free school supplies, and you can interact with police officers and explore emergency vehicles. Youngsters can also enjoy bounce houses, the splash pad, and games.

We’ll serve light refreshments with entertainment by the Lincoln Center’s Minds of Champions Chorus. Overflow parking is available at the Wayne Smith Ballfield parking lot at 107 Holleman Drive.

The development of the new center supports our community’s growing needs and enhances after-school programs, young adult and senior programs, and educational classes while providing rental space. It also serves as a social hub that encourages community members to gather, create, learn, and enjoy.

What’s New?

Voters approved expansion and renovation in 2008. A new 15,355 square-foot building includes a second gymnasium with wood flooring, three additional activity classrooms and a fitness room loaded with new equipment. The facility is accented with purple in reverence to Lincoln High’s school colors and proudly displays the old Panthers mascot on the gym floor.

The new building features five multipurpose rooms that can fill an array of recreational, social, meeting and rental needs. It also has an open area for physical activities and a fully furnished workout area with state-of-the-art equipment.

Renovations to the original building include an expanded community room, an upgraded computer lab, floor repairs, and better gymnasium lighting.

Through the vision of Lincoln Recreation Center trailblazers Lillian Jean Clark Robinson, Lance Jackson, and Kim Daily, the center will improve the quality of life for children, youth, seniors, and families through culturally responsive educational and social service activities.

“Many of the participants at the Lincoln Recreation Center are descendants of students from Lincoln High,” Lincoln High alumnus Henry Lewis said. “Like their forefathers, they are contributing what they’ve learned from the center to the College Station community.”

The transformation embodies the true spirit of the old Lincoln High school motto:

“Forward forever, backward never.”

For more information, go to or call 979-764-3779.


15056423_10211457886507712_8938533943363720232_nAbout the Blogger

Lincoln Center Supervisor Cheletia Johnson has worked for the City of College Station for more than 25 years. A College Station native, she grew up near the LRC. Cheletia earned a bachelor’s degree in community health from Texas A&M and a master’s in counseling from Prairie View A&M.


If you found value in this blog post, please share it with your social network and friends!



Renovation moves Lincoln Center into a bright new age

By Kelly Kelbly, Recreation Supervisor

Lincoln Recreation CenterThroughout February, you’ve heard a lot about the Lincoln Recreation Center’s rich past. We’ll always respect the historical significance of the facility, but as African-American History Month comes to a close, it’s appropriate to take a closer look at what lies ahead.

After all, the spirit of the old Lincoln School’s motto — “Forever Forward, Never Backward” – speaks to the future, not the past.

In the 2008 bond election, College Station residents approved plans to expand the overcrowded recreation center. In the years since, city staff has worked with architects, design firms, and citizens to develop plans to update the facility to meet our community’s growing needs and expectations.

Construction is expected to start in a few months with the grand opening scheduled for next year.

What does this mean for you?  (more…)

Lincoln alumni blazed an impressive trail of achievement

By Lance Jackson, Lincoln Recreation Center Supervisor

In Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, he said “the world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to unfinished work…”

Lincoln’s eloquent words were about the battlefield, but they could apply to the legacy of the College Station school that once bore his name. It’s fitting to reflect on that heritage as we observe African-American History Month.

From 1941-65, the Lincoln School educated children from elementary grades through high school. The development and history of the Lincoln Recreation Center mirror the achievements of the many students who walked those hallways.


Lincoln Center, neighborhood thrive after years of investment


By Steve Beachy, Former Parks & Recreation Director (1978-2007)

In 1978, the Lincoln Center and the surrounding neighborhood were in a severe state of neglect.

The old school buildings showed the years of little or no maintenance. Holleman Drive was a narrow roadway with broken pavement and no curbs or gutters. Eleanor Street and adjacent streets were unpaved and had a tendency to become impassable during heavy rains. Sidewalks, street lights, and paved parking were nonexistent.

The area also had numerous substandard homes, vacant houses and properties overgrown with weeds and brush. The poorly maintained softball field and two youth baseball fields fell far short of meeting the needs of our small but growing college-oriented community.

A lack of funding for potential improvements made the situation grim.

A steady renaissance (more…)

Proud history moves Lincoln Center “forever forward”

1945 A&M Consolidated Tigers

By Kelli Nesbitt, Parks & Recreation Marketing Coordinator

People of all ages filter through the Lincoln Recreation Center for various activities and programs, but many don’t realize the building’s historical significance. With February being African American History Month, it’s a perfect time to take a look back at the proud history of Lincoln High School.

More than 2,000 people arrived in Brazos County as slaves. Formal education didn’t exist until the Public Schools Act of 1871. By 1923, 127 African-American students were enrolled in the A&M Consolidated School District. The district accommodated only elementary school students until it began busing pupils to Kemp High School in Bryan.


Juneteenth week spotlights LRC’s legacy of community service

By Lance Jackson, Lincoln Recreation Center Supervisor

With the week of June 14-20 commemorating the sesquicentennial of Juneteenth, it’s fitting that we also celebrate the 35th anniversary of College Station’s Lincoln Recreation Center.

The city dedicated the old Lincoln High School as a neighborhood recreation center on June 6, 1980. Since then, the facility has been the location for many events and celebrations, as well as a safe and fun gathering place for our community’s youth. The center’s legacy of learning, community pride and freedom grows stronger each year.

President Abraham Lincoln, the center’s namesake, once said freedom is our last best hope. Hope may be defined to include an expectation of optimism and fun.


A&M students provide glimpse into Lincoln Center’s past

Lincoln School TAMU Arch Interpretation 4

On Tuesday night, I had the pleasure of viewing an interpretive architectural model of Lincoln School (1941-1965) that was presented by group of Texas A&M architecture majors. Their assignment was to render their interpretations of College Station’s Lincoln School and Bryan’s Kemp High School, both of which were segregated African-American schools.

The intriguing concept behind the project was to depict Lincoln School as it might stand today if much of the campus has not been destroyed by fire in 1966. The surviving buildings became the Lincoln Recreation Center in 1980.


Local team pays tribute to the Lincoln High Panthers


Our family began its home-school basketball experience in 2004, when our oldest son started playing for Brazos Valley Christian Home Educators’ Association. We practiced and played our home games at the Lincoln Recreation Center, which was available much of the day. The center’s director, Lance Jackson, and his wonderful staff gave the home schooling community a warm welcome. 


“Redeeming Time” Endures at Historic Lincoln Recreation Center

Eventually, something good almost always comes out of good works. James Steen calls it “redeeming the time.” 

Earlier this month, Mr. Steen was about to have a corrective surgery at the Scott and White Hospital in Temple. His wife, Andre Mae, said the attending physician was in the prep area when suddenly he exclaimed “JAMES STEEN! I know Mr. Steen!” The surgeon said that 11 years ago he performed some community service at the Lincoln Recreation Center, where Mr. Steen has served for many years a community services coordinator. Mrs. Steen says the young doctor quickly galloped to the holding area to offer a happy greeting to Mr. Steen before the surgery. Thankfully, the surgery was successful and Mr. Steen will soon be gracing the Lincoln Center once again.