Meigs School

The Oldest African American School in East Nashville

A Confederate business from the Civil War paved the way for decades of African American history in East Nashville.

Shortly after the Civil War, a former Confederate gun factory was converted into a school for the freed African-American population living in Nashville. By 1883, Meigs School, as it was originally known, became Nashville’s first African-American school. In 1888, Meigs School graduated the first class of African-American seniors in Nashville. The school continued to operate until 1933 when the original school building was destroyed by a tornado that tore through East Nashville. The school was rebuilt, moving from its original location on Georgia Street to its current location on Ramsey Street. Meigs School graduated its last class in 1969. However, in 1983, Meigs opened their doors once again and became one of three magnet schools established in Nashville. The school still currently operates under the name “Meigs Academic Magnet School.”

In 2002, the original Meigs Magnet School was set to be demolished. City officials decided that the cost to renovate the building would be greater than simply starting from scratch. By the middle of 2002, construction began on the new Meigs Magnet School. Key pieces of Meigs’ history were carefully removed from the original building for reuse in the new building: the front entrance and every piece with Meigs’ signature “M” were salvaged. Today, Meigs Academic Magnet School stands as a proud emblem of African American educational history in Nashville. Students attending the school today follow the same advice given to the first graduating class: “You must assert your rights by going into doors previously closed to you. If you find them still closed, then it is your job to knock a little harder.”