Sunday, November 7, 2010

Florida History: Fort Lauderdale's first high school - Cuba trips and more ...

(Enter "Florida History" in search box to right for more history posts)
The cornerstone of Fort Lauderdale High School, first known as Fort Lauderdale Central, was laid in 1915 on land donated by the pioneer Stranahan family. A Mediterranean Revival structure designed by Miami architect August Geiger, the school drew students from Pompano Beach, Davie and all the unnamed rural areas that are named municipalities in Broward County today.

More interesting facts:
  • Track team uniforms of 1918 served as inspiration for the school’s student body nickname, the Flying Ls. Uniforms with the Flying L logo were provided free to students beginning in 1922.
  • In 1934, one year of the Great Depression, there were 16 members of the graduating class. Times were so tough that they were unable to publish a yearbook.
  • During World War II, diplomas were given to male students who completed one semester and enlisted in the military.
  • The school band, before Castro took over Cuba in 1959, made yearly trips by boat to Havana (see photo above from a 1948 yearbook).
The school building closed in 1962 and relocated to the current site on NE Fourth Avenue. The Class of 1962 laid a commemorative plaque at the old site, now the site of a bank.

Notable graduates:
  • C.M. Newton, former athletic director of the University of Kentucky;
  • Sandy Nininger, the first soldier of World War II awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor;
  • Rita Mae Brown, author and women’s rights activist;
  • Peter T. Fay, senior judge of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta
For a 1922 photo of the track team, see:

Search this blog's archives for more "Florida history" facts

Sun-Sentinel. Telling Tales Out of School by Jane Feehan. April 11, 2004
Gillis, Susan. Fort Lauderdale: The Venice of America. Charleston: Arcadia (2004).
For more information about Fort Lauderdale, visit:
For the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, visit: www
For school photo experts, see:

Tags: Fort Lauderdale historyFlorida in the early 1900s, Fort Lauderdale High School history


Mike Miller said...

Nice story that I've forwarded to one of my friends who graduated from Ft Lauderdale HS way back in the day.

I've been missing your columns. What have you been up to?

Jane Feehan said...

I've been working the Hurricane Irene disaster in NY (Albany).