West Side Junior High School

City/Town: Little Rock
Location Class: School
Year Built: 1917
Year Abandoned: 1984 - 2002
Status: Restored National Register of Historic Places

The historical West Side Junior High School in Little Rock was vacant for nearly twenty years where it was stripped and destroyed almost entirely by vagrants and vandals. For a moment, it seemed as though the building was going to be demolished, leaving its rich history in the rubble. Founded in 1917, the West Side Junior High School served as an educational establishment and a community center. Offering a common area where underprivileged people in the Little Rock community could learn to swim and attend events like birthday parties. After a long period providing middle level education, the school was consolidated in 1971 and only the community center remained; the facility was renamed the Little Rock Skills Center.

After several years of successful community building, the Skills Center moved to a larger space in 1984, leaving the old school vacant. For several years, the building fell into worse and worse shape and the city of Little Rock planned on demolishing it in the early 1990s. Due to its impact on the neighborhood and significance to the community, leaders in the neighborhood were able to stop the plans and allow the building to be renovated. The Arc Arkansas, an organization that provides services to the physically and developmentally disabled, took up this responsibility in 2002, sinking $5 million dollars into renovating the historic site. The many classrooms now function as apartments for the physically handicapped and the auditorium was repurposed as a children’s medical clinic and office space for UAMS. Because of this, the West Side building was inducted into the National Register of Historic Places, claiming its spot in Arkansas and United States History.

Article by Wells Thompson – AAR Staff

Video by Russell Morris

Photos kindly donated by Russell Morris & Mark Jernigan


  1. After Oakhurst Elementary, I went to West Side Junior High for 7th and 8th grade,
    1961 – 1963. Moved to TN at beginning
    of 9th grade. The only picture that I remember is the gym . Been a long time.

  2. Arlan Andrews on

    I attended West Side for 7th and 8th grades (1952-54), then transferred to Mabelvale. Was glad to be out in the country when the 1957-58 school year began, and not at Central.

  3. Nice to be hearing about this site really very helpful and useful for all,keep sharing and giving us with dissertation ideas site. Mostly sharing about paper writing services and tips always,keep doing in the same way infuture also with this abandonedar blog.

  4. Hailey from OKC on

    You know what's sad ? This school looks better then the middle school I went to and my school was built in 1974 ! It just goes to show you that no one cares about the upkeep of our schools

  5. My old Jr. High was able to rise from the rubble and today stands as a functioning & important residential facility with a public medical clinic located in the back. It was wonderfully restored.

  6. I attended West Side for 7th & 8th – we moved to Cammack Village & had to transfer to Forest Heights. I've been inside the restored building – the apartments are great!

  7. I too attended West SIde (in the early "sixties"). It was a proud building with lots of history even then. So very glad that it is serving tje city and it's people again and did not fall to the wrecking ball.

  8. Thank you for spelling West Side correctly. (Note to our local newspaper, at which there is little to no institutional memory of old Little Rock: It was never Eastside and Westside Junior Highs.)

  9. Saw a black girl get her throat cut right there on those front steps, and the principle pick her up and run across the street to Baptist hospital. Sorry folks…. Just bad memories for me. Glad the bldg has a new purpose for good

  10. Jo, I remember playing those West Side Bearcats at Quigley when we were in junior high Eagles band. But back then, I had NO clue where West Side was! Who could know that West Side, by then, was several miles east of our schools?? Think the whole LRCHS campus once had been city's West Side Park. Back when the Travelers played there at Kavanaugh Field, now Quigley.

    • read the text….My old Jr. High was able to rise from the rubble and today stands as a functioning & important residential facility with a public medical clinic located in the back. It was wonderfully restored.

  11. They really don't build them like that anymore, do they? When I look at the modern public schools, and even churches, it makes me want to weep! Just look at this amazing architecture and craftmanship – timeless. These modern buildings look terrible from the beginning!

  12. Oh my, I remember going to West Side for three years. They were some my favorite school years. It's sad to see what kind of condition the school got to. It was nice when I went there. I have a lot of memories there. I remember so many of the teachers and class mates. I remember when it was vacant for so many years I often wondered what it would be like to roam those very halls again. I wish I would have gotten the opportunity. I remember so many of my old class rooms, locker and homeroom. I'm thankful that the building was saved and is now a part of past and present history. "GO BEARCATS"

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