Lesson learned: do not wait to photograph an old building whose fate is being determined by school officials and City leaders.
Lesson I hope the San Antonio ISD learned: do not let your buildings deteriorate until they are crumbling and beyond saving. Most likely, they did not learn this one.
I have searched for quite a while to find information on the history of the Beacon Hill Elementary School in San Antonio, Texas, and have found very little information and no photos. But, I will continue to search. I do know that in the 1890’s San Antonio began expanding north of the City into what business leaders described as a wasted goat field. Developers had vision and laid out the new subdivisions, one by one, and the people came.
Beacon Hill was one of those new fashionable neighborhoods with its Craftsman style bungalows lined along its quiet streets. A two room brick school was built in 1906; sometime between 1915 and 1920 a much larger school was constructed, possibly in the form of two buildings. In 1933 the school was renamed as the Beacon Hill Elementary School. It continued to serve students until it closed in the late 1990’s when a new school opened behind this building.
I have to believe from the pictures published in the San Antonio Express-News that the school was already in a sad condition when it was closed. After seeing the pictures of the interior I could understand why parents and students had fought the preservationists and City Hall to demolish the building. It was too far gone to repurpose. It was an eyesore in the neighborhood with its boarded up windows and crumbling exterior. In addition, the playground adjoining the back of the building could not be used as the danger of falling debris made the playground unsafe.
Beacon Hill is an interesting neighborhood today. Many of the original homes have been beautifully preserved and/or restored; however, many are on the edge of decline or already there. Small, shot-gun style houses that are barely upright still provide shelter to occupants. So, I can understand the participation of the parents in having the old school demolished. They wanted only the best opportunities for their children and the old building was a hazard as well as a deterrent to any expansion of the modern campus. In July 2019 the bulldozers moved in and within a short time the building was gone and the lot cleared.
San Antonio ISD serves the inner area of San Antonio and has struggled for years to afford quality education for its students and for many years maintenance of all campus buildings was minimal. With much resourcefulness, the District is overcoming many obstacles and seems to be emerging from their struggles. The new Beacon Hill Academy serves grades PK-8.
As much as I hated to drive up and see the vacant lot, I also knew that what had been done had to be done. After my first visit I had planned to come back with my camera and make more pictures, but I didn’t and time passed. Now it is gone and I search for pictures and stories.