Cowtown Yoostabes, Fifth Ward Edition: Van Zandt School

This recent aerial photo shows Van Zandt-Guinn Elementary School and the park of the same name on Missouri Avenue on the near East Side:

This 1963 aerial photo shows what that park yoostabe:

That’s Van Zandt School of the Fifth Ward (not to be confused with the Van Zandt School on the near West Side just north of Casa Manana). (More on the ward schools here.)

This postcard shows the Van Zandt school, which was designed by English-born architect Stewart Wemyss-Smith, who served an apprenticeship under Messer, Sanguinet, and Messer.  Wemyss-Smith also designed de Zavala Elementary School on College Avenue (1906). He would design the Oklahoma statehouse in 1914.

van zandt 1905The Van Zandt school was under construction in 1905.

The Van Zandt building had six Ionic columns. Stone tablets between the front windows bore the names of eight Texas heroes: Travis, Lamar, Bowie, Crockett, Houston, Austin, Ross, and Milam. (Photo from FWISD Billy W. Sills Center for Archives.)

The 1963 aerial photo shows that an extension was added to each end of the building, changing its floor plan from sans serif to serif.

The Van Zandt School, built in 1905, was torn down in the 1970s to make way for Van Zandt-Guinn Elementary School, which opened in 1980 as an underground school.

Ward 5 Missouri Avenue SchoolThe Fifth Ward was the first ward located beyond what is today downtown. The first Fifth Ward school, made of wood, was built in 1894. It taught grades one through six in eight rooms. (Photo from FWISD Billy W. Sills Center for Archives.)

The 1894 building burned on March 4, 1904. The 1905 school was built to replace it. Clip is from the March 5 Telegram.

Also destroyed in that 1904 fire was Missouri Avenue Methodist Church immediately to the north. The congregation built this beautiful replacement—now St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church—across the street.

Footnote: Seven of Fort Worth’s early fires (four of them on railroad property) occurred in the area between Lancaster Avenue and Hattie Street south of downtown: Spring Palace (1890), 1882 T&P passenger depot (1896), 1899 T&P passenger depot (1904), Fifth Ward school and Missouri Avenue Methodist Church (1904), 1902 T&P freight depot (1908), South Side (1909), Fort Worth High School (1910).

When the Van Zandt School opened in November 1905, its principal was Robert Lee Paschal, who would be principal of Fort Worth High School on Jennings Avenue when it burned in 1910. Paschal had become principal of the Fifth Ward school in 1894. In 1927 Paschal, by then principal of Fort Worth High School in its new building on Cannon Street, recalled that once at the Fifth Ward school his male students were tardy after Paschal rang the morning bell because “a wolf passed along Missouri Avenue as we were coming to school, and most of the boys joined with the men and boys in a wolf hunt.” (Photo from 1910 Panther yearbook.)

This partially obscured 1905 Telegram article indicates that the school was named for Isaac Van Zandt (1813-1847), father of Khleber Miller Van Zandt and Fort Worth physician Dr. Isaac Lycurgus Van Zandt. In 1842 President Sam Houston of the Republic of Texas had appointed Isaac Van Zandt to be the republic’s charge d’affairs to the United States. Van Zandt was instrumental in securing the annexation of Texas by the Union.

This article about Isaac Van Zandt is from the Houston Telegraph of 1844—one year before annexation.

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6 Responses to Cowtown Yoostabes, Fifth Ward Edition: Van Zandt School

  1. David Perkins says:

    I attended West Van Zandt elementary school, was on the NW corner of Lancaster and university drive.
    1948-1950. We lived in the Linwood addition (behind Montgomery wards on west 7st). Most of the kids who went there lived in this neighborhood.
    I’m looking for a picture of the old school.

  2. Tempe Attwell Broekemeier says:

    I am related to Annie VanZandt Attwell. My Dad and Grandfather were both Leonard Lycurgus Attwell. I’m trying to find who they were named after. And more info. about my family history.

  3. David says:

    This 1963 aerial photo shows what that park yoostabe: Van Zandt School of the Fifth Ward, not to be confused with the Van Zandt School that was just north of Casa Manana

    Those school buildings were known as East Van Zandt and West Van Zandt by FWISD employees in the 60’s and 70’s. That’s what my dad called them anyway.

    • hometown says:

      David, at this point I suspect that the west school was the first of the two to be called “Van Zandt.” It was on former land of Colonel Van Zandt and in the Van Zandt independent school district. I suspect it came to be called “West Van Zandt” only after the east school was named for the colonel’s father. Still trying to find a photo of the west school.

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