Vanishing Texas Vernacular Architecture

Meusebach School

Meusebach Creek School

The Meusebach School is one of several old school buildings that have been preserved in Gillespie County Texas.  The Friends of Gillespie County Schools, have taken on the responsibility of preserving and ensuring that these former schools will be the future parks for the residents of the county.

The first building for the Meusebach Creek School #11 was located near Meusebach Creek on the Fritz Lochte property.  The stream supposedly received its name when John O. Meusebach got tangled in the undergrowth and fell backward into the water.  It was a square cabin with only 96 square feet of space.  The walls consisted of logs filled with mortar and the roof was constructed of shingles.  The bare interior contained only a stove, long benches, and the teacher’s desk and chair.  Due to the growth of the western part of the district, a new school was built on the Fritz Lochte property in the 1880′s.  The stone structure was more spacious and had four windows and a door.

O.W. Striegler continued his career as teacher in the new school.  He introduced school closings and “Prüfungen”, or examinations, which consisted of afternoon programs in which the students answered questions and demonstrated progress in writing.  At the end of examinations, games were played.

The curriculum included arithmetic, reading, in both German and English, writing, spelling, and geography.  Later, a new state law required all subjects, except foreign language, to be taught in English.  The school also began receiving state support, which added a “free” two months to the year, meaning that tuition was not paid for these months.  Some children could only afford to attend for these months.  Students bought their textbooks.  Teachers’ salaries at that time averaged $20 per month.

In 1897, trustees decided to erect a new, third structure.  Louis Bonn donated one acre for the frame building and this was the first land owned by the school.  The building was one and one-half stories high, with the half story being used as an attic for storage.

The Social and Improvement Club was organized in 1917, and is the predecessor of today’s Community Club.  It provided new desks, a cistern, a telephone, and many other improvements.  In the 1930′s, the district was finally in a financial position to build a modern school.  This was the fourth and last building.  The new frame building had nine windows and two entrances.  It had a large classroom, a library, and a cloakroom.

The Meusebach Creek School was consolidated with the Fredericksburg school district in 1954, after providing education to the community’s children for ninety years.  It is worthy to note that Henry, Laura, Minnie, Ovie, and George Washington, whose parents were freed slaves, attended school with the other children at Meusebach in 1869.  This was certainly one of the first integrated schools in the South.

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