The Whitney E. Houston Academy of Creative and Performing Arts originally opened in 1873 as the Franklin School. It was renamed in 1997 after East Orange native and performer Whitney Houston. At 138 years of age, Houston Academy is the oldest building in the school district.
The original Franklin School was located on Dodd Street near Girard Avenue. Construction began in 1825 and lasted until 1832 at a cost of $233.93. The first building was two stories high. At 1360 square feet, it was smaller than most single-family houses in the area today. In 1873, a four-room brick building was built on the current location. The land and buillding cost approximately $19,000 more than the first.
The Franklin School Circa 1874
In 1883 and 1884, an addition was added, doubling the school to eight rooms. In 1897, a $45,000 bond was issued, and a third addition was made in 1898. By 1915 the school was again overcrowed, and yet another addition was made, so that the building had more than 20 classrooms, an office and a 418 seat auditorium.