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Texas | Architecture | Schoolhouses

Wooster Common School
No. 38
Harris County, Texas

Texas Historical Landmark

Republic of Texas Plaza Park
5117 North Main, Baytown, TX

School Historical Marker

Wooster Common School No. 38, Harris County, Texas
The Wooster Common School No. 38
Vintage photo courtesy Wooster Family Files

Wooster Common School No. 38

by Trevia Wooster Beverly

The Wooster Common School No. 38 is believed to be the oldest existing one-room frame schoolhouse indigenous to Harris county. Planned by Quincy A. Wooster, it was built in 1894 on land donated by Junius Brown.

Both Mr. Wooster and Mr. Brown had been prominent citizens from Monona County, Iowa and active with community service and education before coming to Texas. Both had children of school age being taught at home by Mr. Brown’s daughter, Bertha. As the community grew the need for a schoolhouse was evident. The principal builders of the new school were family members Bert Brown, Ernest Crow, Steve Steinman, W. A. “Will” Shreckengaust, and John L. Wooster.

The little school, though not fancy, was a source of pride for the small community. Cypress was chosen for the frame and exterior siding, and long-leaf heart pine for the interior. When finished the school boasted a real slate blackboard and new desks that had been purchased in Houston and delivered by steamboat to the community that was situated on Scott’s Bay.

On April 9, 1895 Commissioners Court instructed School District 17 (White Settlement, Crosby post office) to be divided; Common School District No. 38 to be established, and included the town of Lynchburg between Wooster and the San Jacinto River. The Commissioners Court ordered, on June 13, 1895, an election for “Saturday the 25th day of June at the school house in said district no. thirty-eight. …” Other elections were ordered to elect trustees and to levy taxes.

On July 29, 1895 Harris County Department of Education census taker Mr. S.T. Sikes stated "District No. 38. Wooster. This district is in the extreme end of the County, located on a beautiful bay. They have a good frame building and the patrons have voted a local tax for supplementing the State funds, and the school is fairly well equipped with good furniture and apparatus."

Intended to education the children in grades one through seven, in the early years the little Wooster school served as a meetinghouse for the community, various social activities, a Sunday School, and a place to vote.

Common School District No. 38 operated until it became part of the Goose Creek Independent School District in 1919. When the new David G. Burnet Elementary School opened in 1930 the Wooster school children from first through sixth grades attended.

The little school house was closed but reopened in 1937 to house the fifth grade due to overcrowding at the new elementary school. It closed and reopened several times, used as classroom, lunchroom, and music room and for ten years served the Goose Creek District’s Special Education facility.

In 1980 the Wooster Schoolhouse was retired permanently. It was acquired and relocated to the Republic of Texas Plaza in 1986, restored and used for tours for school children. In 2006, the building was acquired by the Baytown Historical Preservation Association and is now part of a ‘living history museum’ complex, continuing to be an educational facility for Baytown and its contiguous area.

In addition to being recognized with a Texas Historical Marker, the Wooster Common School No. 38 has recently been designated as a County Schools of America’s Landmark Additional information about the Baytown Historical Preservation Association and the Wooster Schoolhouse can be found at http://baytownhistory.org/home.html

© Baytown Historical Preservation Association

Wooster Common School No. 38, Baytown, Texas
The schoolhouse today
Photo courtesy Nisha Holland Jones
More Texas Schoolhouses

Historical Marker: 5117 N. Main, Baytown

Wooster Common School No. 38

In 1891, Quincy Adams Wooster visited Texas from Iowa. He was so impressed with this area that he sold his farm and moved his family here. With his business partner, Willard D. Crow, Wooster bought thousands of acres along Scott's Bay. He had the town of Wooster surveyed and platted on January 20, 1893. During World War II, the population increased greatly due to the nearby Humble Oil & Refining Company and the Humble Docks. In the 1950s, the City of Baytown annexed Wooster, then still a rural community. Hurricanes Carla (1961) and Alicia (1983), extensive subsidence, and industrial-use property acquisitions have removed most historic resources from Wooster.

The Wooster Schoolhouse was built in 1894 on First Street near Market Street Road (later Arbor Street and Bayway Drive) on land donated by Junius Brown. It was designed by Q. A. Wooster and built by Wooster, Brown, and their sons and sons-in-law. Cypress was chosen for the frame and exterior siding and longleaf heart pine for the interior. On April 9, 1895, Harris County Commissioners Court was petitioned to create School District No. 38, to include Scott's Bay and Lynchburg. Q. A. Wooster, Junius Brown, and John Wesley Crow were elected the first trustees. Serving seven grades, the school became part of the Goose Creek school district in 1919. The schoolhouse closed and reopened several times, and was moved in 1937 to the new David G. Burnet Elementary School and used as a classroom, cafeteria, and music room. The building was also used for Sunday School lessons and as a voting place. It closed as a school facility for the last time in 1980 and was moved in 1986 to Republic of Texas Plaza for use as a museum. As the oldest known existing one-room frame schoolhouse in Harris County, it continues to have educational and historical value to the community.
(1990, 2012)

Wooster Common School No. 38 Historical Marker, Harris County, Texas
Wooster Common School No. 38 Historical Marker
Photo courtesy Nisha Holland Jones

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