Posted in Early History, Library

Central Library

This CENTRAL HIGH HISTORY moment was copied from Central Alumni NewsLetter authored by Susan Watkins Kendall Class of 1978 (see Central News).

There’s no better time to research, show off, and preserve Central’s history than during our Centennial year!   I thought everyone might enjoy this bit of history about Central’s E. Y. Chapin Library.  Ed Hoback

HISTORY OF THE E. Y. CHAPIN LIBRARY written in 1970 by Mrs. Pansy Allison, Central High Librarian

When Central High School was organized, a library was not included in the original plans.   In the early 1920s, Mr. John Setliffe, a Latin teacher, felt the need for an organized collection of books.   He gathered together a number of books which were located in an area under the south stairs on the first floor.   In 1926, Central was given some donations from a private classical library, and in cooperation with the Chattanooga Public Library, the Hamilton County Board of Education was able to organize a library for Central.   The library was then located behind the rotunda, directly over the cafeteria.

During the years of the Depression, Central’s book supply was running low.   Just when it seemed Central would have to give up the library, the Hamilton County Board of Education, in order to meet standards set by the Southern Association of Libraries, appropriated $2,000 to buy enough books to maintain the library.   After the Depression, Central built the left wing of the school, and in 1937 the library moved to that location.   Until 1952, Central maintained three librarians, but when student enrollment dropped below 2,000, two librarians were enough to run the library.

In 1938, the library was added to the school as a branch of the Chattanooga Public Library and was named in honor of Mr. E. Y. Chapin.   Several years later, Central’s library broke away from the Public Library and since that time has been supported by the Hamilton County Board of Education.   In 1950, Mr. E. Y. Chapin donated $3,000 to buy books.   In his will, he left the school an endowment fund which has gone a long way toward making Central’s library the largest high school library in the South.

Since 1927, the head librarians of Central High have included:

  • 1927-29:  Garnett Leader
  • 1928-29:  Mary W. Atkinson
  • 1929-30:  Elizabeth Lacey
  • 1930-43:  Augusta Kolwyck
  • 1943-61:  Mary Sanders
  • 1961-69:  Ellen Mullennix
  • 1969-70:  Ariel Colburn
  • 1970-86:  Pansy Allison

In 1969, the Central High School Library moved into its new location at the school on Highway 58 in Harrison.


Graduated from Central in 1965. Had the honor of being Mr. Central 1965. Started on the Central Basketball Team for three years and was a member of the Track Team in my senior year. Shared command with Bryant Millsaps of the Central JROTC unit in my senior year. Other activites at Central are documented in the 1963 -1965 Champions. Received an athletic scholarship and played Division I College Basketball for four years. When I graduated from Auburn in 1969, I was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Army Adjutant General Corps and served 25 years on active duty, retiring in 1994. Some of the military awards I earned include the Legion of Merit, one Meritorious Service Medal for Achievement, six Meritorious Service Medals for Service, Joint Service Medal for Achievement, two Army Commendations Medals, and Viet Nam Service Medal. After retirement in 1994, I became a Real Estate Broker until my second retirement in 2010. I am passionate about Central History and am pleased to be Administrator of this Blog/Site.

One thought on “Central Library

  1. Posted on the Central Connection by Charlie Sedman January 28, 2009:

    Going back a little further, Central’s library had its beginning on October 26, 1910 with a school ceremony in which the Chickamauga Chapter of the DAR presented Central with a 200-book historical library. The address given by Mrs. H S. Chamberlain, DAR regent, in making the presentation, is recorded in the November, 1910 Central Digest. Miss Harriet Greve of the Central Faculty was appointed custodian of the library, in essence, making her Central’s first librarian.

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