The Fourth Ward was the southwest quadrant of town. It had been carved from the Third Ward in 1883. The first three ward schools had been built of wood in 1883. The Fourth Ward School, also wooden, opened for the 1884-1885 school year. Eight years later some schools were being built of brick. The Fourth Ward/Sam Houston School on Texas Street downtown (pictured) was built in 1892 and torn down in 1927. The central fire station (1930, designed by Wyatt C. Hedrick) is now on that site. (Photo from FWISD Billy W. Sills Center for Archives.)
The Fifth Ward was the first ward located beyond what is today downtown. The Fifth Ward School was built in 1894 on Missouri Avenue at Hattie Street southeast of downtown. It taught grades one through six in eight rooms. (Photo from FWISD Billy W. Sills Center for Archives.)
By the early twentieth century ward school buildings were larger, their architecture more classical. After the 1894 Fifth Ward School building burned down in 1904, it was replaced in 1905 by this handsome building, also called “Van Zandt School.” Displayed on the front of the building were the names of eight Texas heroes. That building was torn down in the 1970s. That site is now Van Zandt-Guinn Park. (Photo from FWISD Billy W. Sills Center for Archives.)
Back in the “dear old Golden Rule days,” readin’, ’ritin’, and ’rithmetic were “taught to the tune of the hick’ry stick” or, in this case, a willow stick. In 1895 Fifth Ward Principal Robert Lee Paschal created a stir when he whipped a student. Note that the boy had played hooky and had asked a merchant to forge the signature of the boy’s mother to an excuse note. Instead the merchant sent the boy back to school with a note in which the merchant suggested the boy be given a licking for his shenanigans. (Photo from 1910 Panther yearbook.)
The Sixth Ward was south of downtown. Sixth Ward/Stephen F. Austin School (1892), on Lipscomb at West Broadway, taught grades one through six. (Photo from FWISD Billy W. Sills Center for Archives.)
This is the Sixth Ward School today. In 1909 the building was doubled in size with a near-twin addition that gave the building a second arched entrance. This grand old building, now headquarters of Williamson-Dickie, is the oldest surviving ward school and one of the oldest surviving designs of architect Marshall Sanguinet.
In 1893 a class at the Sixth Ward School posed in front of the arched entrance of the original building. Note the kneepants and wide, rounded, flat collars. The boy marked “5” on the front row has a derby. You can almost see the girls on the back row looking at him and humming “Ev’ry girl’s crazy ’bout a sharp-dressed man.”
Those kids would be about 130 years old now. (Photo from University of Texas at Arlington Library.)