Construction of the Wiley H. Bates High School began in the early 1930s. The land was purchased with the help of a $500 donation from Mr. Wiley H. Bates, who had helped persuade the school board of the need for the school.
Located on Smithfield Street in Annapolis, Maryland, the first portion was completed in 1932 and replaced the original Annapolis Colored High School which had been located in the Stanton School on West Washington Street. Additional classrooms were added in 1937, 1945 and 1950.
From the time the school was built in 1932 until 1966 when the Anne Arundel County public school system was finally desegregated, the Wiley H. Bates High School was the only public school in the county which African-American students could attend for a secondary level education.