About Us

The building, which was actually Bartlett’s third school building, was completed in 1909 at a total cost of around $21,000. It was located on a full city block and centered diagonally on that block. It featured ten rooms, three offices, and an auditorium. It housed all grades from 1909 until 1917, the elementary grades from 1917 through 1966, and the primary grades from 1966 until 1988. A.O. Watson of Austin was the architect with the local contractor of Flick & Son.

In 1990, the Bartlett school board conducted a survey to determine what should be done with the building which once served as the high school for Bartlett students and later as the grammar school through 1988. It was to the point of taking bids for the demolition when James Persky, author of History of the Bartlett City Schools, called Bobby Hill, Bartlett Area Historical Society president and also Mayor of Bartlett, and suggested soliciting contributions. At that time, James Persky gave the first $1,000 and wrote a letter to the editor to the local newspaper. Others started contributing and promoting saving the building.

Fred Beversdorf, retired minister and local resident, organized a meeting that was moderated by Bobby Hill at Bartlett Town Hall. The purpose of the meeting was to see if there were enough interested citizens to work toward saving the building from the wrecking ball. The interested parties became known as the “Save Our School” group. The first meeting was held July 17, 1990. The school board gave the group two months to come up with a plan for the use of the building.

In the meeting with the school board in September 1990, the Bartlett Activities Center was granted a 25-year lease. The Articles of Incorporation for the group are dated March 8, 1991. They later went back to the school board and requested a 99-year lease, which was signed on May 1, 1994.

When the group took over the red school, it needed an enormous amount of renovation as pictured in before and after photos below. The first two photos show the second grade room then and now,

Parlor, second grade room before photo

Parlor, second grade room after photo
Downstairs stairway then  

Downstairs stairway now

Kitchen then

Kitchen Now
In addition to inside damage, extensive repairs had to be made to the entire roof. Today the two-story, sixteen-sided building that was constructed in 1909, sits diagonally on a full city block and is home to the Bartlett Activities Center, Inc., the parent organization for the Bartlett Area Historical Society, Bartlett Area Museum, and Bartlett Alumni Association.
The two rooms on each side of the entrance and the third grade room have been renovated and are used as mini museums with artifacts dating back to the 1800s. The safe once used by the Bartlett-Florence Railroad, stock certificates and coupons from that railroad, as well as paintings by the railroad’s last president Marie Cronin, dominate the first grade room, one of the mini museums. In addition to these items, the room also includes a trunk that made several trips on the Chisholm Trail, period clothing, busts of American statesmen from the high school building that was torn down in 1973, metal plates from the Bartlett Tribune, and items from the Gersbach-Wacker Company, a prominent Bartlett business until the 1960s.
The second museum contains a wringer washing machine, a pot-bellied stove, an early refrigerator and a treadle-type sewing machine, all of which belonged to some of Bartlett’s early families. A third museum area is dedicated to sports memorabilia and items from the CCC Camp 3805 which was located in Bartlett in the 1930s.
In the front hallway of the building stands a trophy case from the original high school building and features trophies and awards from the early 1900s. The kitchen, dining room and parlor serve as meeting and events rooms. BAC monthly meetings are held in the kitchen area, while family reunions, showers and other events may use the kitchen, parlor, and dining area.
In 1994 the group completed requirements for a historical marker for the school building. The marker is located at the left of the front entrance opposite the bell that once hung in the bell tower and summoned students to class. Well-known locals E.A. Limmer (author of three-volume History of Bartlett), Louise Limmer (longtime first-grade teacher in the building), and Jewel Brune Ford (second-grade teacher in the building) were on hand for the unveiling of the marker.
A memorial garden was added in 2006 on the east side of the building providing a perfect location for quiet relaxation. Both tables and benches are built from solid slabs of limestone and are bordered on two sides by beds of purple flowers. Projects underway at the present time are repairs to the roof, removing and coming up with a way to keep water out of the basement, and in the future, restoration of the second floor. All downstairs rooms have been renovated and each room has it’s own central air conditioning unit.

The Bartlett Activities Center Inc. is a non-profit corporation meant to preserve the old grammar school as a landmark and to keep the building in service to benefit the citizens of Bartlett and surrounding area. If you are interested in becoming a member of the organization, please send your contact information and your check in the amount of $20 to Bartlett Activities Center, Inc., P.O. Box 724, Bartlett, Texas 76511. The group meets monthly, except November and December, on the fourth Saturday of each month at 1:30 p.m. November-December is a combined meeting.