Built in the 1860s, Stanton is the oldest continually operating high school in Florida. The original structure has been destroyed and rebuilt several times and the current building was built in 1917. Over the years, Stanton has changed from comprehensive to vocational to college preparatory curriculum.
The school at one time taught all grade levels before permanently becoming a senior high school in the late 1930s. At that time, it was the only high school for African-Americans in Jacksonville and one of a few in Florida.
Originally named after Edwin M. Stanton, President Lincoln’s War Secretary, the school has existed under several names, including Stanton Normal School, the Stanton School, the Stanton Institute, Old Stanton High School, New Stanton High School, Stanton Senior High School, Stanton Vocational High School, and its current form, Stanton College Preparatory School. In 1983, Stanton was placed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
In 1894, Principal James Weldon Johnson wrote and brother Rosamond Johnson put to music “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” first performed by students at the school and became known as the Negro National Anthem.