Although public education in Cameron County had begun in 1854, the city of Brownsville was able to set up its own public school system in 1875, with classes held in various buildings throughout the city. In 1887 Captain William Kelly, chairman of the board of trustees, began a reorganization of the school system and called J. Frank Cummings to be superintendent of the Brownsville Schools. Cummings, a native of Brownsville, led the board of trustees to erect a centrally located school building on property that was donated by the city council.
In October 1889 the Brownsville Public School, which housed the Grammar, Junior, and Senior High classes, opened at this site. The building originally had 12 rooms on two floors, crowned by a cupola, and was expanded as enrollment increased. Supt. Cummings and 12 teachers taught the 9 grades. The first graduates, Aggie Willman and Annie Russell, received their diplomas in 1890. Although the original building was razed in 1929, the present school was constructed with some of the bricks from the old school. In continuous use as a location for education since 1889, this site maintains an important link to the city's early history.