The first Bryan High School was built in 1880 following voter approval of a “Graded School.” The land in the Southwest part of town was donated by major Cavitt, Gen. H.B. Stoddard, Major L.J. McQueen, Col. Harvey Mitchell , Capt. E.L. Ward, T.P. Boyett, and R.L. Weddington.
Only seven grades comprised the student body that first year. By 1884, ten grades occupied the school, and the first graduating class of Bryan High in that year was composed of three girls. In 1915, the first Bryan High School yearbook was published for the student body, which now numbered over 200 students in all grades.
Though records are not as plentiful, a parallel history of black student education exists. In 1885, the city of Bryan purchased land for and established the “Bryan Public School for Colored,” thus providing “separate but equal and impartial instruction for black children” as prescribed by the Texas State Constitution of 1876. The first building, a two-story frame structure, burned in 1914. It was replaced with a brick building at the corner of W. 19th and Houston streets.
By 1917, growth in the city required the construction of a new school. Voters gave their approval for the new building, which was projected to cost $100,000. Ground was broken in August, 1918 at the location on Baker Street, the site of present-day Fannin Elementary. The school contained 40 rooms. It included an auditorium with a seating capacity of 1000, and was at that time, the largest assembling place in the city. The 35 members of the Class of 1920 became the first to graduate from the “new” Bryan High School.
From 1921-1928, there was no yearbook to record the history of the schools. The tradition was revived by the seniors of 1929. It was also in that year that City Commissioner L.L. McInnis announced that Bryan schools would have their names changed to honor the heroes of Texas history. Bryan High School became Stephen F. Austin. High School at that time. The school’s enrollment in 1929 was 361 students. The black student population continued to grow as well, and in 1930, Kemp Junior-Senior High School was constructed on W. 19th Street.
In less than 10 years, the student population of Stephen F. Austin had grown so quickly that another school was built. In the fall of 1939, students entered a brand new building at 801 South Ennis. A gymnasium was added in 1956.
In 1961, a new high school for black students was built. E.A. Kemp High School’s modern campus was located at 1601 West 19th Street. This marked the first time these high school students had a campus of their own, having shared the previous Kemp building with the younger grades. As schools across the country began to desegregate, Bryan schools followed suit. The plan called for a one grade per year desegregation. That plan changed in 1971, however, when a district court ordered the immediate desegregation of all Bryan Schools. A new identity was formed for the students of Bryan that fall, when Kemp students joined those of Stephen F. Austin and became the Vikings at Bryan High School.
The last 30 years has seen growth both in student enrollment and campus facilities. A two-year construction and renovation project costing some $33 million was completed in the summer of 1999, bringing together all four grades on one campus for the first time. A fine arts facility and third gymnasium were added at this time, as well. The original building became the Blue Campus for grades 11-12, while the newly constructed building for grades 9-10 was named the Silver Campus. As the new millennium dawned, so began a new phase of public education in Bryan, Texas.