Spending Time With Living History in Bartlett, Texas

A few weeks ago, while on another assignment in Bartlett, someone mentioned that I might be interested in Bartlett Grammar School.  The busy day didn’t allow a followup then, but the next week, on one of those afternoon/evening jaunts, I made my way there.   What an amazing thing to see, its red brick facade glowing in the late-day light.  A little background and history is in order.  It currently serves as Old Red Schoolhouse Museum and the Bartlett Activities Center, open the fourth Saturday of each month from 2-4p.m.   Now the history.   The Bartlett Independent School District was formed in 1903, with cotton and railroads putting this town on the Williamson/Bell County line squarely on the map.  A five-room school was built to accommodate all grade levels. By 1906, however, the community’s growth called for a better (and larger) place for the kids.  A successful bond election  paid for the structure you see in these photos.   Built in 1908-09, it also served all grades until a new high school opened in 1917.  Thereafter, it was known as Bartlett Grammar School for students in grades 1-8.  It remained open until 1988.  Since then it’s still here for Bartlett residents to cherish.  Owned by the school district, Kathy Jones, one of the residents watching over the structure, mentioned the school has leased the building until April 2093.   That means it has staying power!  It needs some loving care for sure, but it’s  not going anywhere.   Seeing the school called to mind my growing-up years in Texarkana, Texas.  My elementary school, Grim Elementary, was built in 1913.  It was also a regal dark-brick edifice.  In summer 1958, as I prepared to enter first grade, the school system decided to modernize the desks, offering for sale the original ones, those constructed of wood and iron, with the seats flipping down in front.  The best part?  The desks were selling for a quarter, which just happened to be my weekly allowance.  So I bought one, lugged it home.  When mama met me at the door, she was surprised.  “What are you going to do with that, Andy?” she asked.   But I kept it.   It’s still with me now.  Somewhere in the 1990s, I traveled to Texarkana for a visit.   I was shocked to see that venerable old school was no more, taken down to add a wider road.   This is one of the reasons I think so much of the “Old Red Schoolhouse” in Bartlett.   And the slide?  It’s original, too.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *