Events / Special Events

100th Anniversary Celebration, 2009: 

Guest registration
Gathering for the auction

The auctioneers
Visiting with friends
Enjoying food and friends

And the article that appeared in the Temple Telegram… 

Bartlett school turns 100

by Harper Scott Clark
Temple Daily Telegram, June 16, 2009
The Bartlett school district passed a bond election in 1908-09 that funded this multi-wing brick building designed by noted Austin architect A.O. Watson. The school, now used as a museum and community activities center, will celebrate its 100th birthday Saturday with a schedule of events. Harper Scott Clark/Telegram

BARTLETT - A grand old lady in Bartlett will pass the century mark this year.
And she gets to blow out 100 candles at a centennial celebration planned in her honor Saturday.

Ceremonies will begin at 2 p.m. at the Bartlett Grammar School at 300 W. Bell St. to honor the landmark building that opened for classes Sept. 13, 1909.

The two-story, 16-sided red brick edifice sits jauntily at a diagonal on a full city block of land and is visually the most arresting building in town. A prime example of picturesque gothic revival of the late 19th century, the school was designed by architect A.O. Watson of Austin.

Watson designed a number of Texas buildings including Main Hall at Texas A&M in 1871, the main building at Baylor University in 1886 and the Comanche County and Milam County courthouses in 1890.

Watson’s hand shows in the design of the Bartlett Grammar School. With its imposing bell tower, the school takes on the appearance of a city hall, courthouse or fortress.
Melba Schwertner, president of the Bartlett Activities Center that now maintains the building, said a movement began in 1988 to save the building when the Bartlett school board voted to tear it down.

“The Save Our School committee promoted the campaign to rescue the building,” Ms. Schwertner said. “In 1991 the citizens group became the Bartlett Activities Center.”
On Saturday, cool summer refreshments including cold punch and light snacks will be served in the dining room. Local volunteers will lead tours of the building and an auction will feature celebrity items to raise money for the building fund.

Some are an autographed photo of Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, an autographed pen and ink drawing owned by Gov. Rick Perry, an antique pocket flask, NASCAR memorabilia, Troy Aikman memorabilia and assorted enticing items that Ms. Schwertner said would remain a surprise.

The building features many architectural oddities such as cloakrooms adjoining classrooms where children would hang winter coats, mufflers and galoshes. The school auditorium on the second floor and an open-air balcony under the belfry make for interesting sightseeing.

Classrooms on the first and second floors have been converted into mini museums with artifacts that go back to the 1800s. An ancient safe that once belonged to the B&W Railroad stands next to glass cases filled with curious and period attire.
An exhibit behind glass features photos of artist Marie Cronin. She is best known for a portrait of Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing.

“She went to Paris to attend art school,” Ms. Schwertner said. “Her father, Thomas W. Cronin, owned the B&W Railroad and when he died she inherited it.
“Cotton was king back then. Farmers planted cotton from horizon to horizon and the B&W was a local railroad that hauled the bales from the cotton gin to the Katy Railroad for transport elsewhere.”

Ms. Schwertner said Marie Cronin was a true icon in Bartlett in the old days.
“She would come back from Paris in the latest fashions and with the latest make up.”
Another classroom has exhibits of old-time household items like a Singer treadle sewing machine, old washing machines, kitchen stoves and all things used in the kitchen up to 100 years ago. A second-grade classroom was converted into an elegant parlor for receptions and teas.

“We want this to be used as a meeting place for the people of Bartlett,” Ms. Schwertner said.

Ms. Schwertner said the historian E.A. Limmer, editor of the History of Bell County, was instrumental in helping the Bartlett Activities Center preserve the school.
“He was a student here in his youth,” Ms. Schwertner said.

Bartlett Activities Center Inc. is a non-profit corporation meant to preserve the old grammar school as a Texas landmark and to put the building back into service to benefit the citizens of Bartlett.

Saturday’s centennial event is free and open to the public.