Coastal Bend History


The birth of Mary Carroll High School

Posted at 10:42 PM, Jun 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-15 19:47:03-04

In the years following World War II, Corpus Christi’s population was exploding, and the city’s boundaries were rapidly expanding to the south and the west.

Add to that a nationwide “baby boom” and one could see the dilemma facing school boards.

New schools were needed and in a hurry!

Plans for a new southside high school were quickly drawn up, and W. B. Ray was opened in September of 1950 to head off a crisis. However, within 3 years, it was evident that another high school would soon be needed.

In 1953, CCISD purchased 30 acres of land for a new school on Weber Road, just south of Lexington Boulevard. In March 1954 voters approved a $5 million bond, which included funds for the new high school. On September 30, 1954, the school board voted to name the new high school after the district’s first and only, female Superintendent, Miss Mary Carroll.

Mary Carroll, CCISD Superintendent, 1922 to 1933

She had started as an 18 year old Spanish teacher in CCISD schools in 1901, and later served as Superintendent of the District from 1922 to 1933.

In January, 1955 the architectural firm of Smyth and Smyth was hired to begin drawing up plans for the new school.

Unlike Miller and Ray, the new Carroll H.S. was to be built in the open corridor design that became so popular with new schools in the 1950’s. (This open air design would ultimately become a primary reason for its demise 60 years later).

The new Carroll was originally scheduled to open in September of 1956, but numerous problems got in the way. Bids for construction were not even opened until the end of May, 1956, and groundbreaking ceremonies did not take place until June.

The construction contractor chosen for the $1,600,000 project was E. Eisenhauer Construction Co.

When completed, the new high school received national recognition for its innovative design.

Mary Carroll High School began its first year on September 3, 1957, led by Mr. Charles Gregg, former principal of Roy Miller. There were no seniors in the first class of 530 students and only 18 faculty members.

Mr. Charles Gregg

The school was formally dedicated on October 1, 1957 with Miss Mary Carroll herself there for the ceremony. Dr. McIver Furman, a former pupil of Miss Carroll, gave the Dedicatory Address.

Carroll’s first year was a difficult one for teachers, students, and parents.

The campus was actually outside city limits, surrounded by open fields that did not drain well when it rained and served by a single, primitive two lane road with open ditches and no sidewalks; Weber Road.

Only that part of Sacky Drive (the future Tiger Lane) directly in front of the school was paved, and the street did not have an exit past the school. Access to Carrol was limited to the two lane Weber Road.

Carroll, like most schools in CC, was not air-conditioned, so mosquitos, bugs, and heat were a nightmare.

But, the open-wing design was perfect for taking advantage of the cross breezes, at least making the situation tolerable. The south-facing walls of rooms had louvered windows across the bottom 3 feet of the wall, and north-facing walls were solid windows. The doors of all the rooms faced south, so many teachers left those open to increase air circulation as well.

Months before the school opened, a special committee of future CHS students and teachers had selected the Tiger and blue and white as the school’s mascot and colors.

The school’s first football team, led by former Miller coach “Cotten” Ashton, had a perfect record that first year; zero wins and ten straight loses!

There were five Black players on the team, but they were not allowed to play in certain games where opposing schools objected!

The CHS team would improve to 4 wins and 6 losses in season 2.

In their third season (1959-60), Carroll got 11 lettermen from Sundeen High School when it became part of CCISD. W.B. Ray and Roy Miller had just won back-to-back state championships, so things were not easy for CHS in a district with two powerhouse teams.

But, things were looking up for the Tigers! Their first winning season came in 1961.

Carroll’s first basketball team did not fare much better than the football team.

CHS opened its first ever basketball season (1958) with a 74-25 loss to Roy Miller…..and that was with Miller only using its first team players during the first period! The Carroll team only had seven players, three of whom were sophomores without a single second of high school experience.

Carroll’s enrollment jumped to 820 for the 1958-59 school year, and to 1,230 the following year (due mainly to the consolidation of CCISD with the Sundeen District).

It was clear that Carroll was going to reach its maximum of 1,500 students soon, and both Miller and Ray were already well past their maximums. Either Carroll had to be expanded or another high school built quickly!

The decision was made to expand Carroll by adding additional wings.

Contracts for the expansion, which would add 24 classrooms to the building, were awarded in December of 1962.

In 1963, a fifth wing was added at the south end of the campus, and a sixth wing on the west side, connecting all of the wings together.

A new Agriculture Shop was also added next to the band hall, the first of its kind in CCISD, along with a new parking lot, and expansion of the athletic dressing rooms.

The 1960-61 school year began with some of the same old headaches as before. Access to the school was still a nightmare. The city refused to construct any new roads because the campus was still outside of the city limits.

The county had also refused to do anything because surrounding property was owned by developers planning new subdivisions and it is typically the responsibility of developers to construct new streets and roads.

It was not until September of 1961 that the county extended Carroll Lane from Lexington to Sacky and Sacky from the school to the newly opened Carroll Lane extension.

After four years of daily traffic jams, Mary Carroll finally had two ways to get in and out!

A short time after the work was done, the Carroll Student Council petitioned to have Sacky Street renamed “Tiger Lane”. That request was granted by the City in March of 1962.

The first five years of Mary Carroll’s existence were not easy. Now, 66 years later, the doors of the original campus have been closed forever.

The new campus on Saratoga has been open for a full year now and the story of Carroll High School continues on.

Robert Parks is a special contributor to KRIS 6 News. Parks was a history teacher at Carroll High School for 19 years and is now retired. His knowledge of Corpus Christi history makes him a unique expert in the subject.