Memphis can thank the Great Chicago Fire for bringing the De La Salle Christian Brothers to West Tennessee. For years, the Catholic community in Memphis had wanted the Christian Brothers to open a school in the city, but it wasn’t until the famous fire destroyed some of the Brothers’ schools in Chicago that four Brothers were available for transfer to Memphis.
In November of 1871, with Br. Maurelian in charge, a school operated by the Brothers opened at 612 Adams Avenue in downtown Memphis - Christian Brothers College. From that original schoolhouse, CBC served boys from the age of eight through college.
The school survived the yellow fever epidemics of the 1870s and awarded its first Bachelor of Arts degrees in June of 1875. When the United States joined the Allied Forces during the Great War, the high school continued to operate, but college-level classes were suspended because ninety percent of those students joined the military.
By 1940, the school had outgrown the Adams facility, and the Brothers relocated to East Parkway and Central Avenue. Though the high school remained in operation during World War II, the college again temporarily suspended some classes but returned to full status as a four-year program in 1946. Meanwhile, the high school’s expanding enrollment occasioned the decision to relocate the high school to a separate campus. The fall of 1963 - CBHS became the first school in Memphis to voluntarily integrate, as the first African American attended classes on the Parkway campus.
Christian Brothers High School opened its doors at 5900 Walnut Grove Road in the fall of 1965 and began to operate under a separate charter from the college. In the 50 years since the move, Memphis has grown around the school, with neighborhoods, roads, and businesses replacing cotton fields. The forty-acre Walnut Grove campus has grown as well, most recently with the expansion of both classroom and athletic facilities, including the Brother Adrian and the Lavecchia Academic Wings, Tom Nix Stadium, and the Giacosa Baseball Complex.
CBHS continues to grow, especially in technology and curriculum development. In the summer of 2011, we installed campus-wide state-of-the-art wireless network infrastructure, enabling internet connectivity from the baseball bleachers to the biology lab, as we introduced a 1:1 computing program in the fall of 2012. In the fall of 2014 the school announced a transformative capital campaign and opened the new McEniry Hall to house the STEMM program.