School no longer in operation
Building no longer exists
This school originally was the 21st Street School. We do not know when it was renamed or when the bell tower was removed from the building. A cafeteria was added to the school in 1951. Bush ceased operation as a school after the 1968-69 school year. Booker Junior High/Booker Magnet Elementary, which was built near this school, opened in 1963. The school was named for John Edward Bush (1858-1916). The building was razed in March 1971.
A partial list of principals at 21st Street/Bush included: J.G. Ish (1891-1896); E.H. Horne (1896-1897); John Rector; Wiley Welch; A.H. Shaw (1928-1929); Wm. O.T. Watkins (1929-1930); Amelia B. Ives (1930-1940); Herbert Denton (1940-1941); L.M. Christophe (1941-1942); W.J.C. Hunter (1942-1949); and Walter Watkins (1949-1951).
Born a slave in Moscow, Tennessee, and brought to Arkansas as a young child, J.E. Bush was orphaned at age seven and left to fend for himself. Through serendipity he received an education in Little Rock's public schools and became an educator--first teaching, then serving as principal at the Capitol Hill School. In 1898 he was appointed United States Land Office Receiver by President McKinley and was reappointed to the same office by presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Bush and Chester W. Keatts founded the National Order of the Mosaic Templars of America in 1882, a fraternal organization for African Americans "of good moral character, of every profession, business and occupation." The Templars' initial purpose was to provide burial and life insurance and other services to its members. In addition to the fraternal lodges, the Templars started the Mosaic National Building and Loan Association in 1884. From its founding in 1882 it grew to 65,000 members in 18 states by 1911. Bush became a close friend and advisor of Booker T. Washington, and at Washington's suggestion Bush led the Negro National Business League as a Vice-President and a member of its Executive Committee. He was a strong supporter of Arkansas Baptist College and a trustee of the First Baptist Church. Bush amassed quite a fortune, including Little Rock real estate, during his lifetime; when he died, he was worth over one-half million dollars.
Mosaic Templars Building Preservation Society web site; history page.
Central Arkansas Library System, Butler Center, Arkansas Black History Online; 1919 biography of John Edward Bush:
Central Arkansas Library System, Butler Center, Arkansas Black History Online; 1911 biography of John Edward Bush: If you have information about a Little Rock school or photographs that you would like to contribute to this project (we will return photographs if requested), please contact us!
Updated December 2006