History of J. L. Long Middle School
As the “junior high” movement swept the nation in the early 1930’s, Dallas educators readily embraced the notion, realizing the need for a transitional period between Elementary School and High School. J. L. Long was the second Junior High School built in Dallas, opening its doors to students in September of 1933. The enrollment the first year was 550 students. (Current enrollment is around 1000.)
The architects were Walter Sharp and Ralph Bryan. Both were collaborative architects for many of the buildings in Fair Park built for the 1936 Centennial Exposition. Renowned architect Mark Lemmon who designed adjacent Woodrow Wilson High School, was the consulting architect for Long’s addition in 1951, and later was the architect for the 1959 addition. There were two more major building additions throughout the recent years starting in 1977 with the addition of the back portion of the main building and in 2006 with the addition of the wing to include the new incoming 6th graders. Long has also seen a number of Annexes and portable buildings through it's history as well but none are presently existing. The architectural style of the school is modified Elizabethan—not quite as traditional or formal as Woodrow, but still with some of the characteristics—dark red brick, the castle like turret at the auditorium, and the fancy finials along the top. Art Deco was becoming the popular style in the early 30’s—you can see this in some of the decorative scroll work and stylizing on the front of the building. There is a lot of symbolism found on the exterior front of the building—the carved books above each entrance represent the “Book of Knowledge”, and reflect "1933" as the year of the opening of the school, the two baskets on either side of the entrance represent the “Fruits of Knowledge”. The carved beehive symbolizes “Community, cooperation and hard work, and the sweetness that comes as a result”.
C.W. Morris was principal for the first 16 years. He thought of the handsome new school as his ship, and he its captain, saying, "We run a tight ship!" Thus came the nautical theme--the athletic teams were (and still are today) referred to as the Buccaneers, the student newspaper was entitled The Long Log, and the student handbook was known as the Anchor.
In 1934, students watched as well-known local artist Olin Travis painted the “Food” mural in the school library. It was one of the WPA arts projects produced in Dallas during the Depression. Mr. Travis is also known for two murals he painted in the Hall of State at Fair Park.
John Lawson Long, the school's namesake, was Superintendent of Dallas schools at the turn of the 20th century. He made many contributions to the Dallas Educational System and helped lay the foundation for the Dallas School District. Mr. Long died in June 1933. The Dallas School Board seeking to honor his memory chose to name the new Junior High School in his honor. Mr. Long’sresolve to provide students with a classical education, as well as build strong character, still continues today.
April 2005 J. L. Long Middle School was proudly designated a Dallas Historical Land Mark recognizing the school for all it's contributions to the community and the architectural historcal importance to the City of Dallas.
John Lawson Long 1859 - 1933
“The community that has placed knowledge within the reach of all its members is civilized” – 1900, J. L. Long