Central High School opened in 1853 as a room in Benton School (located on 6th St., between Locust and St. Charles) becoming the first co-ed public high school in St. Louis. In 1856, the high school moved into a new building at 15th and Olive, where it remained until 1893 when it relocated to a new, larger building at Grand and Finney. During this time, the high school offered college preparatory and general education curricula, surprisingly similar to the current required course work.
The High School grew and prospered, becoming known as Central High School when additional high schools were built in the city.
In September 1927, after a terrible tornado struck St. Louis and severely damaged Central’s building, the school moved into the Yeatman High School building on Garrison Avenue. There, Central continued, despite the hardships of the Great Depression and World War II.
To celebrate Central’s one hundredth year and the gains made in education in St. Louis, a massive outdoor pageant was presented at the old Public School Stadium in 1953. The 1950s witnessed another significant milestone with the integration of the District as well as Central High School.
In response to population shifts from the city of St. Louis to St. Louis County, the school district developed the magnet school concept that led to the creation of the Visual & Performing Arts High School in 1976 on one floor of the O’Fallon Tech building. The Visual & Performing Arts High School was later housed in the Humboldt School building, where students from all parts of the city and county were drawn together by their interests in the arts and the wide variety of cultural experiences offered to them.
In 1984, Central High School merged with Visual and Performing Arts High School and became Central Visual and Performing Arts High School.
Except for a one-year relocation to the McKinley High School building during renovations, Central Visual and Performing Arts High School remained at its Garrison Avenue location until the summer of 2004 when it relocated once again; this time to the corner of Kingshighway and Arsenal, where it brings new life to the old Southwest High School building.
Throughout her proud history, CVPA has served a continuous stream of St. Louis youth helping to prepare them for their various loves and careers.