School History

  • On September 18, 1898, Harvard Elementary School opened its doors to the children of the south end section of the Houston Heights. At the dedication ceremonies, the members of the school board were present: D.D. Cooley, W.G. Love, Wm. A. Wilson, L. Ream, C.A. McKinney,and John A. Milroy. The City Directory for that year lists the school as “Houston Heights School No. 2 – Harvard, 8th Ave. Miss Annie M. Thielan, teacher.”The school was built on two lots at Harvard and 8th, and its name derived from its location, although later the word Street was dropped from its official title.Before the building could be erected, it was necessary to secure the enrollment of at least thirty pupils. Interested mothers accomplished this feat, and a one-room building followed fast. There were fifty desks and thirty pupils in the first five grades, with Miss Thielan as teacher of all classes.

    In 1900, Miss Thielan was transferred to Cooley School and replaced at Harvard by her sister, Miss Alice Thielan.

    In 1902, rooms were added to the building and three teachers then employed: Misses Yeager, Ayleen Sharp, and Lucille Schindler. This enlarged, three-room frame building was still serving in 1911 when a view book of the Heights printed a picture of the first brick unit beside the old building.

    Besides the Misses Thielen, a number of early teachers served at Harvard through the years and should be mentioned in a history of the school: Misses Florence Keene, Vera Harris (before Miss Harris transferred to the High School), Miss Nanno Maynard and Marie W. Finney. Later, W.H. Elrod served as principal, after the school had grown into an impressive center of learning. Mr. Elrod’s term at Harvard expired with the amalgamation of the Heights into the Houston Public School system.

    In 1910, the Mother's Club of Harvard School was organized. Mr. and Mrs. J.M. Limbocker (who owned and edited the Suburbanite) sponsored an all-day picnic on their spacious lawn, across from the old Heights Natatorium, to raise funds for the club’s work. Mrs. Limbocker’s neice, Mrs. D.D. Smeaton, was the first president of the Mother's club. Other outstanding members were: Mesdames H.C. Colley, P.M. Granberry, L.E. Van Valkenburgh, and C.C. Young.

    In general the needs of the school fell upon the shoulders of the people of the neighborhood. In 1911, like the mothers of the children at Cooley, the mothers of Harvard School were preparing soup and chili for hot lunches.

    The growth of the school system in the Heights was not left to the school board and the teachers, except in matters of classroom procedure. An active interest in the welfare of their children is apparent in all records of the people of the Heights and extended to tangible evidence in getting things done.
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