Gadsden State Technical Institute began in 1960 as Gadsden Vocational Trade School, a private vocational training school for African Americans. It was founded by Eugene N. Prater, director of the Veterans General Continuation Program for Negroes, in response to discontent expressed by black veterans of Etowah County for being denied admission to the all-white Alabama School of Trades. The new school was approved by the Veterans Administration for training under the G.I. Bill and began to enroll black veterans. By August 1961, enrollment was at 71, and course offerings included auto mechanics and repair, plastering and cement finishing, brick masonry, woodworking, dry cleaning and laundry, general business, and tailoring. The school was identified as part of the state’s network of vocational/technical schools and appointed Prater as the director. In 1962, the state of Alabama assumed ownership of the school, and in 1972, it was renamed Gadsden State Technical Institute. The U.S. Department of Education designated this institution as a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) in 1997. The facility now serves as the Valley Street Campus of Gadsden State.