Friday, January 6, 2017

The History Of Robert E. Lee Elementary School

By Richard Fluker (2006)

North Marshall School, the first school on the north side of town, opened on September 3, 1887, as a one-teacher school in a two-room frame structure on Summit Street. The school was moved to a small building across the street from the old Summit Church during the 1889-90 term. In the summer of 1890, the first structure erected in Marshall for a free state-supported school was built -- a one-room house in the 800 block of Summit Street. Another room was added in 1891.

The school continued to grow until four grades were taught in 1894. In June 1895, the East and North Marshall schools were consolidated, and a three-room schoolhouse was built at the corner of Beauregard and Lee, streets near the Texas and Pacific shops. The building was destroyed by fire on February 10, 1900.

The school was then housed in the old Leach residence, located at the corner of Texas and Summit streets, until a new brick building for grades 1-6 opened for classes November 9, 1902, on Calloway Street. The school was known as North Marshall School until 1925, when it was named for the Confederate general.

The first remodeling of the original brick building occurred during the 1938-39 school year. A new wing with a cafeteria, auditorium, principal's office and teacher's lounge was ready for use in late 1950. Remodeling of the old auditorium provided two additional classrooms in 1951. The northwest adjoining lot was purchased for use as a playground in 1953. A central library was ready for use in September 1960. The two-story 14-room section of the present building was constructed adjacent to the cafeteria win in 1968 at a cost of $270,408 and the old building was torn down.

In June 1961 the boundaries of the Lee and Van Zandt Elementary School zones were dissolved. As a result of the merger, Lee was known for about three years as Lee-Van Zandt. Van Zandt was renovated in 1968 for use as administrative offices. The original part of the building was razed in October 1981. The cafeteria addition was later traded to East Texas Baptist University for land in east Marshall.

Eight classrooms, two computer labs and a teacher's workroom were added to Lee in 1988. funds came from the 1986 bond issue, which provided $5.5 million for additions to five schools and facilities for administration, food service, maintenance and transportation. The kitchen also was expanded in 1988. A separate gymnasium was built in the fall of 1991.

With MISD's reorganization in 1981, Lee School began serving students in grades K-4. In 1989, the kindergarten class was moved to Washington Early Childhood Center but was later reinstated.

Robert E. Lee, being the oldest school in Marshall, was the first with several innovations. Among these were the first PTA, which was organized in 1906, the first school gymnasium, the first drinking fountain for students and the first piano.

In 2001-02 Lee was designated "Recognized" by Texas Education Agency for performance on the state-mandated assessment exam. The achievement was repeated in 2003-04 and 2004-05.

Update: Under the Legacy 2017 building program, the current facility at Robert E. Lee Elementary will be sold, rented, demolished or repurposed for further district use beginning in the 2016-2017 school year.