Henderson Junior High School opened in 1964 and was named for G. DeMatt Henderson, Sr., a prominent Little Rock attorney and member of the LRSD Board of Directors from 1918 to 1930. Most of Henderson Jr. High's student population came from East Side Junior High, which closed in 1964. When it was completed, Henderson was considered a modern beauty with its many skylights and courtyards. It offered several extracurricular clubs not usually associated with junior high schools, such as Latin and chess clubs. Henderson contained an orthopedic wing for the special needs of physically challenged students. A classroom addition was completed in 1971. In 1992 it became a magnet school, and Henderson Magnet Middle School offering a health sciences magnet program to prepare students for careers in health-related fields. While the campus is still in operation, it no longer operates as middle school.
G. DeMatt Henderson, Sr., was born on a farm in Clay Co., Missouri, in 1881. His family moved to Little Rock when he was just six years old. He attended the University of Arkansas and earned a law degree from the State University in 1903. He practiced law at the Kinsworthy, Henderson & Kinsworthy law firm.
During his 12 years on the Little Rock School Board, he served as legal advisor for the district but refused to accept payment for his services. In fact, in 1991 his son still had a voucher issued in the amount of $2,000 for a case he took to the Arkansas Supreme Court that he refused to cash, even during the Depression when his family desperately needed the money.
Some of the School Board's accomplishments during Henderson's tenure include: approval of the $1,291,000 bond issue to erect and equip a new senior high school (Central High); the purchase of Civitan Park from the City of Little Rock (Quigley Stadium would be built there); approval of a plan in cooperation with the city Health Department that was the beginning of the present school health program; the employment of an attendance officer for African-American students; the founding Little Rock Junior College; the construction of Gibbs Industrial High School; and the awarding of contracts for the construction of Pfeifer School.
After the completion of the new Little Rock High School (Central), Henderson strongly felt that a new high school for African-American students also should be built, so he went to Chicago at his own expense and secured a grant from Sears, Roebuck & Co. executive and philanthropist Julius Rosenwald to help fund the construction of Dunbar High School (now Dunbar Magnet Middle School).
Henderson died on March 12, 1945.
"LR schools named for prominent people," Arkansas Democrat article by Cynthia Howell, 18 Apr 1983; page 10B.
Hobby, Selma. 1991 research project about the Little Rock School District.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 June 2014