Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Historic Montopolis Negro School Rehabilitation



The City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) will host two opportunities to learn about and explore the history and future of the Historic Montopolis Negro School.
 

Virtual Community Meeting: Wednesday, October 27

4 to 5:30 p.m.
Register on Zoom

In this meeting, PARD will share information about the Historic Montopolis School. This is the first meeting to engage the Austin community in future planning for the historic school that was acquired by the City of Austin to serve as a museum. PARD wishes to connect with the community, share information about the school, and learn about the community's goals for a planning process.

 

Montopolis School Open House: Saturday, November 6

500 Montopolis Dr., Austin, TX 78741
10 a.m. to noon

In addition to the October 27 virtual meeting, community members are invited to an open house on site at the Historic Montopolis Negro School. This will allow community members the opportunity to see the school as it is today and imagine what could be possible.

Appropriate COVID pandemic protocols will be adhered to, including wearing a mask and limiting numbers inside building at any time to ensure appropriate distancing, and completing a short health questionnaire provided by Austin Public Health.

 

Background
Until the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education landmark US Supreme Court case, the education system in the United States was racially segregated by law. In 1935, a major Austin flood destroyed the c. 1891 original Montopolis Negro School located on the north side of Bastrop Highway about one mile south of the Colorado River.  St. Edward's Baptist Church donated land to Travis County for school purposes at 500 Montopolis Dr. A two-room army barrack was relocated from Camp Swift to the site and renovated to serve as a school. Travis County transferred ownership of the school to Austin Independent School District (AISD) in 1952, and the school closed in 1962 due to desegregation of schools. 

In 1967, the property was purchased from AISD and the building then served as the Montopolis Church of Christ. The church operated until the 1980s and the building has remained vacant since that time. In 2015, a private developer purchased the tract of land along with the building with the intention of developing the land into single family homes, retail space, and an office building.

The City of Austin began the process of acquiring the Montopolis Negro School in 2017, as directed in Resolution 20170928-056, for the purpose of preserving and programming the building and site as a museum and tourist asset. Ultimately, negotiations with a private landowner were unsuccessful and Resolution 20180628-081 initiated eminent domain proceedings in 2018. The Office of Real Estate Services communicated in a January 24, 2019 memorandum to City Council that the City of Austin had taken possession of the property.






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