Dear Old Golden Rule Days: The Ward Schools (Part 4)

In Part 4 we look at the Seventh, Eighth, and Ninth Ward schools (see Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3).

The Seventh Ward/Fannin School building (identical to the Sixth Ward School building) was on Magnolia Avenue between Louisiana and Evans streets. Today the South Freeway covers the site. (Photo from FWISD Billy W. Sills Center for Archives.)

This photo shows Nora Bobo’s third-grade class at the Seventh Ward School in 1906. In every class photo, there’s always one kid who is looking the wrong way when the picture is snapped. In this case it’s a boy on the front row. (Photo from Tarrant County College NE.)

In the 1880s Bacon Hill, an area of Fairmount, was outside the Fort Worth city limits and operated its own school district. In 1888 the Bacon Hill district bought land at Alston and Myrtle streets and built a wooden schoolhouse. (Photo from FWISD Billy W. Sills Center for Archives.)

In 1890 people in the unincorporated area south of Fort Worth (among them E. E. Chase) started a campaign to be annexed. Fort Worth was glad to oblige and in 1891 created the Eighth Ward for Bacon Hill. In 1906 Fort Worth built a brick schoolhouse next to the 1888 wooden schoolhouse, and students voted to name their school in honor of Lorenzo de Zavala (interim vice president of the Republic of Texas). In 1906 the Telegram reported that the new building “has been so constructed as to be perfectly lighted, rays falling over the left shoulder of each pupil at his desk” in each of the twelve classrooms.

de zavala 1905The de Zavala school was under construction in 1905. It was designed by English-born architect S. Wemyss-Smith, who came to Fort Worth and served an apprenticeship under Sanguinet and Staats.  Wemyss-Smith also designed the Fifth Ward’s Van Zandt Elementary School (1906). Wemyss-Smith would design the Oklahoma statehouse in 1914.

In 1914 another schoolhouse was built beside the 1906 de Zavala schoolhouse but faced College Avenue, not Alston Street. The 1906 de Zavala school was demolished in the 1950s, but the 1914 building still stands.

Ward school buildings built after 1900 (for example, Hogg in the Eleventh, de Zavala in the Eighth, Daggett in the Tenth) often had the designation “District” instead of “Ward” carved above their entrance.

Fort Worth’s first eight wards had been created in areas southward from the courthouse. The Ninth Ward was the first created north of the courthouse. It was created in 1891 at the same time the Eighth Ward was created in Fairmount. The Ninth Ward took part of the First Ward’s area. Ninth Ward/Travis School was on Gounah Street in the Samuels Avenue area. The Lincoln Park at Trinity Bluff apartments cover that site today. (Photo from FWISD Billy W. Sills Center for Archives.)

In 1905 Miss Clara Belle Deason of the Ninth Ward School was the only female principal in the school system. A principal who was an icky ol’ girl but who knew her way around a toad must have been (almost) popular with male students.

This 1909 Star-Telegram article shows the resourcefulness of two Ninth Ward bosom buddies who were determined to enjoy a boys’ day out by hustle or bustle.

By 1949 only one school still was a “ward school”: the Ninth Ward School for African Americans at 230 Swift Street at Cold Springs Road. The school later was Ruby Williamson Elementary School and then housed New Lives, a school district program for pregnant teenagers.

In 1985 the county bought the property for use as a jail facility, and thus ended the dear old Golden Rule days of the ward schools.

(Thanks to FWISD Billy W. Sills archivist Lenna Hughes for her help with historical photos.)

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