Hood County News
Saturday, 18 October 1997
Woman fights Cresson school sale
Dont sell the Cresson school, Helen Long is begging the Granbury School Board. Its the focal point of the Cresson community and Cresson cant afford to lose it, Long says. The community would be nothing without this building, she states.
Long points out that the 67-year-old yellow-brick building is used from everything to Cressons fall festival to a polling place to a location for weddings, receptions and family reunions.
Its the site too of Halloween parties and musicals. Every Wednesday is the senior citizens lunch. On Oct. 12, 70 people attended the Cresson Homecoming, Long reported.
Emotionally, theyre really tied up with this building, Long said of Cresson residents and former Cresson School students.
Cresson School is located on North Crook Street off U.S. Highway 377 East in Cresson.
Cressons Fall Festival and auction is today (Saturday) at the Cresson School. The serving of lunch begins at 10:30 a.m., with the auction from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. There will be music and other entertainment. Its free and the public is invited.
Long, 70, said the school board offered the Cresson School for sale in July after the Cresson Community Organization forgot to renew its lease of the building two years ago. It skipped by, Long said of the lease renewal. The organization was required to renew the 99-year lease every five years, she stated. Thats no reason to believe were not interested in keeping it going. Now they (school officials) seem to think they have the right to turn around and sell this building.
Long says there has already been interest from local companies in buying the property. If the buildings sold, she fears the historic school will be torn down.
Long, who has lived in Cresson for 44 years, has a personal stake in the Cresson School. Her son Jon, now 38, attended first and second grades there. Long has been involved with restoration of the school since the Cresson Community Organization began leasing it in 1980. She estimates residents have already spent over $70,000 restoring the building.
The appraised value of the school and its lot is $50,000, said Long.
Long is working to obtain a historical marker for the Cresson School through the Hood County Historical Preservation Commission.
In a Sept. 3 letter to Long, Granbury assistant school superintendent Dale Taylor suggested the Cresson Community Organization find someone to donate land that could be given to the school district in exchange for the Cresson School property. Taylor told Long the land could not be donated to the organization because law requires that the land must be sold or traded for a like value.
In an Oct. 6 letter to Long, Taylor expressed concern at Longs applying for a historical marker for the Cresson School, which he said is school district property. He reminded Long that the school district plans to sell the property.
Taylor states that the Cresson School property has no value to the school district. The school board will take some action on sale of the property next year, he reported.
Taylor indicated the Cresson Water Company is interested in buying the property to drill a well. Hensons Building Materials in Cresson is also interested in the property, he added.
The present building is the third in a series of school buildings at the site. Grades 1-6 were taught at Cresson, but at one point grades 1-11 were taught as well at the school, Long said. Classes were held at the location from 1890 to 1967. Thats when the Cresson School merged with Granbury and the building closed. From then on, the Granbury Independent School District used the building for storage of surplus equipment until 1979, Long stated.
Cresson residents began restoration of the building when they signed the 99-year lease for the building in 1980, Long said. The lease was for $1 a year, she stated.
In 1890, a two-story frame school building was built at the Cresson School site. Another school building had also apparently been built at the site six years before, Long stated. It was either a log or frame one-room building just west of the present school.
The frame building was replaced in 1918 with a red brick building. The red brick building was used too as the Baptist church from 1896 to 1900. That building burned in October 1930, with the school records, Long said. The present yellow brick building was built in 1931. At one time, outbuildings for the school included a coal shack to the west of the school and two outhouses to the north of the building.
Before Cresson residents were able to lease the building, Long said she lobbied school board members to lease it. You cant let this building go to rack and ruin up here, she recalled telling them. It means too much to our community.
When the Cresson Community Organization leased the school in 1980, the building was in terrible shape, Long recalled. The roof leaked like a sieve and all the windows had been broken by vandals, she said. Some windows had been boarded up. It was sad, Long stated. The brush had grown up against the building and you could hardly see it.
Then school superintendent James Wann held an auction to sell off the surplus school equipment stored in the building. The Cresson Community Organization got to split the proceeds with the band boosters, Long said. They got $2,000, she added. That was a shoestring budget we had to start with, Long stated.
Cresson residents began work on restoring the building to its original condition. They sent the construction trades class up here, Long said. The class tarpapered the roof, replaced floors in the restrooms and restored two back doors.
The Texas Refinery Corporation donated a new roof for the school. Someone else donated a 500-gallon propane tank to replace an underground butane tank, said Long.
It was a long, uphill battle, Long said of the restoration. Weve been working our tails off year after year after year. Its progress an inch at a time.
All of the money for the restoration, except for a few donations, has been obtained by fund-raisers, Long said. Its been scratch and dig for every dime we get. The Cresson Community Organization used to sponsor wrestling matches to help raise funds, Long pointed out.
The classroom on the buildings southwest side was used for the schools youngest pupils, Long stated. Where the Cresson Schools kitchen is now was that classrooms library. The kitchen has a 1930s vintage Garland gas range, which is still in use, Long said. The classroom also doubled as a cafeteria.
The school has a auditorium and stage. The stage is constructed of stunning knotty pine wood. That is the most beautiful stage, Long said. The auditorium was once warmed by two coal stoves. All of the classrooms were warmed that way too before natural gas was installed, she stated.
The schools southeast corner classroom held grades 6-8. Its now used for storage. That classroom also had an adjoining library. The northeast corner room was used as a classroom and movie room, stated Long. A school geography lesson scrawled in chalk is still on the classrooms blackboard after 30 years.
The schools floors are pine wood stained and oiled.
The school is equipped with lightning rods, quaintly disguised by small concrete vases. The lightning rods werent much help in the mid-1960s, when lightning destroyed the front facade of the school, Long said.
At one time, the schools playground was equipped with a great stride teeter-totter, swings, monkey bars, slide, merry-go-round and basketball goals.
There are future plans for the Cresson School. For the first time, there will be a Christmas play this year at the school, Long reports. Its being organized by pastor David Downs of Cresson Baptist Church.
The Hood County Historical Preservation Council will hold its first meeting at the school on Monday, Oct. 27, she says.
The Cresson Schools centennial is next year, Long says. In October 1898, the land for the Cresson School was formally granted for a school site, she stated. The centennial is something else to plan for, she states.
The Cresson School is one of Hood Countys historical treasures, said Long
The tract of land that the building is on was deeded to the Cresson Independent School District in 1998 and three school buildings have stood on the site. The mission-style brick school building that still stands was built in 1931 and has qualified far a historic marker.
In preparation for the centennial event, a memorial quilt that will be awarded in a fund-raiser drawing is being made by area residents.
In addition, the Cresson Post Office has applied for a special pictorial cancellation stamp that will mark the event. Postmasters will be on hand at the Fall Festival to perform first-day cancellations for collectors.
A contest is now underway for local artists to design the pictorial cancellation stamp.-The entries will be judged by a panel of area postmasters.
Specifications and requirements for the pictorial cancellation stamp available at the post office in Cresson or from the Lake Granbury Arts Association, P.O. Box 96, Cresson, Texas 76035.
Entries must be submitted to Cresson Community -Organization, Inc., P.O. Box 184, Cresson; Texas 76035 Friday, May 15.
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