Columns » Blake Pontchartrain: New Orleans Trivia

Blake Pontchartrain: Francis William Gregory

The education leader was principal of what is now Warren Easton

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Hey Blake,

Who was Francis W. Gregory and what is his claim to fame? I want to share the information with my children since I attended the school that bore his name.

Alan

Dear Alan,

  Francis William Gregory was a leader in local education circles for more than 50 years. For about 20 of those years he was principal of the old Boys' High School and its successor, Warren Easton High School, the first high school in the state.

  Born in New York in 1861, Gregory was a graduate of the University of Michigan. His family had moved to New Orleans by that point. After graduation, he joined them here in 1885, entering the public schools of New Orleans as a teacher at McDonogh 16. He became principal four months later.

  According to Robert Meyer Jr.'s book Names Over New Orleans Public Schools, Gregory became principal of McDonogh 1 High School in 1896. In 1913, he became principal of Boys' High School, later renamed to honor Warren Easton, who was the state's first school superintendent. According to Gregory's 1933 obituary, he was known to his students by the nicknames "Deak," "Greggs" and "Uncle Frank."

  More than 25 years after his death, the Orleans Parish School Board built a school in Gentilly bearing Gregory's name. Francis W. Gregory Junior High, at 1700 Pratt Drive, was dedicated on Jan. 17, 1960. It was built to educate 1,000 students from the seventh through ninth grades. The six-building campus included 41 classrooms, a cafeteria, gymnasium and library. The school was demolished in 2011.

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