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Lee High School

For the past half a century until May 21 of this year, Robert E. Lee High School was in the teaching business. But now, to quote a man named Alice, school's out forever. This expedition into abandoned Baton Rouge didn't exemplify as much decay and natural reclamation that so many vacant buildings do, but we may not have the luxury of time. The school may have a date with a wrecking ball, although that doesn't seem to happen often here. If not, I'll follow up at the end of my tenure in Baton Rouge, since it doesn't take long here for nature to take hold.  But even now, it hasn't been well maintained, so it's not lacking in decay.



Meanwhile, I think the loss of Lee is not just noteworthy because it must have been a formative place for so many readers of this blog, but I think if these buildings are demolished, it's a loss to local mid-century modern architecture. It's an unusual structure in that it seems to be designed to handle massive rainwater flow issues (but maybe not very well), and it has some design flaws like the claustrophobic dead space when you're standing on the dark street-level pavilion below the single-story overhangs. Nonetheless, Lee's long, low-slung, modern lines combined with the diagonal grade of the land and the zig zag outline of the gym, are aesthetically pleasing to this day.








View from that dead space, below:






Above, just past the more distant breezeway is a small outdoor park-like area with benches.  Below is the gym.



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I love the picture of the shoes outside the ballpark.

The Mighty Favog

The campus isn't dead yet. The Lee High site is where Baton Rouge High will move for the duration of its campus' renovation/reconstruction starting after next school year.

After that, who knows? The plan had been to tear it down and rebuild, but then they closed the school.


Did you arrive before they destroyed the old auditorium? It was located in the large open space just north of the campus. It looked like a giant flying saucer had landed. I can't seem to find pictures of it online though. :(


Politivore: The old auditorium was impressive indeed. I was sad when it was torn down, as it was the building that really cemented that mid-century modernist feel of the school's physical plant. I was able to find one grainy black-and-white image of the auditorium at The photo is part of an article from the magazine and website _225_ about the closing of Lee High. The article can be found at

Ms. Kane: You may know this from your research, but the auditorium was located in the area that is now a grassy field, to the right of the main school buildings as you look at the site. And your blog is WONDERFUL, by the way--thank you for doing this work!!!


HI, I liek your blog.

How did you take pictures inside teh classrooms?


Thanks, guys. Looks like this gets filed as a "soon to be abandoned" post.

Nick, I just took pictures through the windows, as I often do.

Mark Sawyer

The dead space below the breezeway is where I would park my motorcycle when I rode to school. The school was in pretty bad shape when I was there from 73-76. The auditorium was in full use for the band, choir, and theater productions of "Oklahoma". Sorry to see the school go.

donnie merriman

It's bad enough that EBR allowed this school to fall apart (along with a few others). It's bad enough that the people of BR cannot utilize their schools and must use the private sector. But old Lee High is currently being used as the campus for Mayfair Middle! I thought that Lee High was closing because it was in such bad condition. This goes to show you that EBRSB has no business running these schools. The parents of school age children should take back their schools then EBR would have no choice because the parents including myself wouldn't allow my child to go to school at this dump.


This is where I went to high school. I was in one of the last classes to actually have classes in the auditorium.

There's something in my eye...

Love the old gym; it looks like the 'modern' architecture of my grandparents' church, which was similarly unusual.

Strange to me that all the chairs and equipment wouldn't have been taken out. Wouldn't they want to reuse them?


This hear ant wuts up!!!!!!!This need to be fixed!!!!!!!!!I don't like it!!!!!!!!

I helped coach baseball the last two years of LHS... sad to see it go.

Sharon Newell Aycock

Thanks for the great pictures that brought back such wonderful memories. I was there for the first day in 1959 when this "futuristic" school opened (we changed classes to music - not bells!) and was proud to be in the graduating class of 1965, as we were the first ones to attend from the seventh grade through the twelfth. I was there when our beautiful auditorium burned and I was there for the last day with the fantastic Jazz Funeral to say goodbye to our beloved Lee High. I will forever be proud to be a Lee High Rebel. "Our rebel name will live fore'er, Our memories cling to Thee." "Hail to dear Lee High, Hail."

Andrew Dunn

My parents both went there. In fact they were actually both valedictorians, one year apart. The campus was really cool, kind of like "Tomorrowland". There were a lot of architectural oddities. The gutters on the gym were interesting - kind of like gothic buttressing with a modernist functionality. I always thought it would be vaguely possible to walk up them to the roof - but never got over a few feet off the ground. My dad told me Pete Maravich would sometimes practice in the gym.


i graduated from Lee in 1999, and my grandparents have lived behind the school since they first built their house in 1959. they still ive there and everytime i visit i pass the school and remember the best 4 years of my life. i even remember the day they tore down the auditorium. great memories in the class rooms, on the fields, and even a few make out sessions in various hidden places throughout the campus, infact, i even snuck a few smokes under the walkways a few times lol. i wish theyd restore it back to the good old days and reopen it. ill always be a Rebel(NOT a Patriot!!!) ill never forget it.

B Kenyon

I did climb the "flying buttress" gutters on the gym to get to the roof top. It was easy. Sat there talking with a friend about life, love, and our high school experience shortly after we graduated ('76). We looked out over the school as the sun set at our backs. The architecture is unusual and I liked it from the start. The "flying saucer" auditorium made me smile every day. Without it the school's architecture does not make sense. I had a good time at Lee, learned enough to not fail freshman year in college, dated some wonderful girls, and played football with a great bunch of guys. To this day when late August rolls around and the weather is dry and summer dust is in the air (it gets like that in DC), I remember two-a-days on the football field at Lee High. Funny the details that stay with you.

Air Jordan

It is better to be beautiful than to be good. But it is better to be good than to be ugly. Do you agree?


I went there for my freshman yr, but went through elem. and middle schools with the class I was with, during that time. I was a Confederette, and loved every minute of it. I had my first real date at Lee, with the Homecoming dance. I made lasting friendships there, and I've always thought that it was the most unusual, unique school, I'd ever seen in my life. I'm glad it's getting a new life as a middle school, but I wish it could have stayed the Lee High, I remember.

Class of 95'


I graduated in 1980, was in the Drama Club we did Bye Bye Birde and Heaven Can Wait in that Auditorium, just found out about all this mess.

Matt Delaney

I went to Lee High my senior year, a transfer from McKinnely down the street. Lee was a cool school back in the 80's, when The Police were popular, U2, and all the 80's groups, not too mention all the John Hugh's Movies that came out, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and Ferris Bueller the following summer.I remember when we used to have keg parties over at Highland Park on friday nights, that was a funtime, I remember when Mr Stogle and Mr. Peterson used to walk the halls, not anymore, the school is gone. Watch out everyone here comes Mr.

76 Rebel

Being a graduate of Robert E Lee High School, 1976, seeing the downfall of such a wonderful school is really such loss for all. Such great memories, great friendships will stay with us all. Damn the EBRP School Board for letting this happen! Once a REBEL--always a REBEL!!


the shhool might reoben ltts keep our fingers crossed pray and show support for our school


thats reopen and let's

David E Jordan

You guys are all right! I graduated class of 1967 (yes I am an old fart)and I will always be proud to be a Rebel! We can say with pride we had Mike Anderson (All American football from LSU) and we knew the guys who burned down the original auditorium. Will never forget senior day! And unfortunately, the afterschool fights beween our black and white fellow students. And the band selling donuts during morning recess to raise money for new uniforms. I will always be waiting for the Robert E Lee!

Stacy Hudson (LHS class of '99)


The school is reopening - my son is going there this fall (2012), following in the footsteps of his father and many of my family members that went there in the 60s and 70s. The letter I got from EBR indicates that they will open 9th and 10th grades this fall and pick up a new grade next year and the following - my son is going into 10th grade and when he's a senior they will have 9th through 12th grade. He will be in the first graduating class of the new Lee High School.

D. Hochenedel

My son is attending the reopened Lee High. His dad is a 1971 Lee High grad.

Meg C

Just watched ESPN's 30 for 30 "Ghosts of Ole Miss" (watch it, even you LSU fans!!) and I remembered my freshman year at Robert E Lee as a Rebel. I will treasure my band mates and "Waiting for the Robert E Lee" forever! I was tranferred the next year down the road to McKinley. I am proud to have graduated as a Panther. I'm sad to find out that the old Lee has deteriorated--has what we have learned about Civil Rights and the value of humanity deteriorated as well? I pray not. Long live the memory of schools such as RE Lee--may we learn from our past and create a better future for our kids.

trey grant

I graduted in 1982. I remember the Gym. Actually had classes in the ouside of the Auditorium. Drew Shaw was the Music Director in the Music room. I had speech and TV news production in one of the other rooms. Long live REBELS!


Don't feel bad....Every school that I ever attended is gone. I started Kindergarten in 80-81 at Pride High School (K-12), which became Northeast Elem in 81-82 (K-6) That school is now an empty field.....After the fifth grade I entered the Gifted program and went to Istrouma Middle Magnet for 6-8 grades. That school is now an empty field....In High School I west to and graduated from Northeast High School (originally Chaneyville). That school is now an empty field. In other words, don't feel too bad, at least they're talking about refurbing Lee.


Lee is where I met my husband, he was the class of '09.
I miss that school so much, so many memories.

John LaCarna

What's the status to date. Has it been torn down?

Anna McGuire

Very interesting to read. I went to Robert E Lee very briefly when it was brand new, in 1960. I remember the new gym which flooded and the the floor warped. I had been told not to play on the little "hills" that resulted from the warping, but I did anyway, I fell and got hurt on the impressive edge of the wood planks. Still have a very apparent scar from that episode. Also, I was there when refugees from Cuba started to arrive and since I spoke Spanish I was assigned to accompany Alma...a Cuban girl who spoke no English and try and help her adapt to life in the US. We moved to France over the Christmas break so my time there was short.

Art Widiger

I graduated from Lee in 1966, and attended Lee for 6 years when they were still a Junion High School as well. Those were some memorable years.

Mike Hasenbauer

I think this should be refurbished and used as an animal shelter.......


LHS class of '93. I painted that far right panel in the art room my senior year. Though someone later changed my name to the word ART. LOL Mrs Grace I presume. The campus was a dump when I arrived in 89, all the mildew in your pics seems like it was there then too. The auditorium was condemned right before senior year when the ceiling started to collapse. I had a few really good teachers there, but my memory is filled with a general sense of disinterest, among the students and faculty alike. I remember Mr Peterson telling me at the beginning of senior year, "you never been to my office, I'll see you before you graduate." I made sure he didn't.


Man I remember this school. Went there for a few months about a year or 2 before they closed it. I was in the wood shop class which is the picture which the wood saw was in. It had a different kind of personality. But great memories none the less

Carroll Orr

I was there for the first classes ever held at Lee high-- Then, our class was the first to be integrated - it must have been frightening for those 4 black teenagers.. I do not remember any problems- --I liked changing classes to rock and roll music- on Foorball game day, we had football music-like " hit the road jack" when we played the yellow jackets--most of my teachers and the principal died of cancer and I was told the school had environmental problems--though I do not know-- I did think it unfair that people who brought their lunch could not eat with those who bought their lunches -- My favorite memory was representing Lee high and going to the national science fair in Albuquerqe, New Mexico and meeting Werner Von Braun --only yesterday


I go there now (senior) and they recently changed the name from Lee to mow Liberty Magnet High. The campus is very different: big, has 4 different buildings and a soccer field. It’s inspired to be a college campus basically.

E Milner

I graduated Class of 1965 and we had about 300 to graduate. As I listen to my daughters try to explain bullying to my 10 grandkids I can’t help but go back to the hours at the bull pen. How I got out of there is still a mystery to my memory.
Great Principal Mr C G McGee and Assistant Mr Bankston with Mr Tommy McCoin backing them up.
When you were told to do something you did it. Didn’t matter if the teacher was right or wrong, she was still the teacher.

Robin G.

I graduated from Lee in 1970 when the only air conditioned building was the new auditorium..In fact,I joined the choir only for that reason..Good ole Drew Shaw.."what a character". Mr. McGhee was the Principal and Mr. McCoin was Asst..Looking at all the pictures of the old school brings back sooo many memories to me..We had so much fun back then...I'll never forget the "cherry bomb" year..It was Christmas time and there was lots of bangs going off around the school..Shortly before recess ended they would light a cigarette, break the filter off and jam the fuse up inside of it.. Place it in a strategic spot usually in the boys bathroom and go to class.. Five minutes later when all was quiet,,,BOOM!!! Well,,,on this particular day right after recess Mr. McGhee went in the boys bathroom to relieve himself and while he was doing so,,,BOOM!!! He came storming out, pants all wet, and the next thing we hear is the speaker box come on.."WE KNOW WHO YOU ARE...WE KNOW WHAT YOU DID...IF YOU COME AND TURN YOURSELF IN WE WILL GO EASY ON YOU"...Well,,, the Lee High student body may not have been the brightest in the country at that time but no one was stupid enough to fall for that..I don't think they ever found out who did it, but I can honestly say it wasn't me...That's only one of the many memories I have of the grand old school..I will miss those old buildings..They could have been saved and I will always be a proud LEE HIGH REBEL P.S. I doubt anyone will ever read this but it sure has been fun writing it...

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