Thursday, November 4, 2021

Historic Montopolis Negro School Open House

Community Engagement Opportunities
The City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) will be hosting an open house on-site this Saturday, November 6 at the Historic Montopolis Negro School. Community members are invited to attend the open house from 10 a.m. to 12 noon to see the school as it is today and imagine what could be possible. PARD will also have opportunities for community members to share stories and memories about the school as well as ideas for the future.

Montopolis School Open House

Saturday, November 6
10 a.m. to 12 noon
500 Montopolis Dr.
Austin, TX 78741


PARD recommends parking on Kemp Street on the the west side of the location. There will not be restrooms available, but visitors can access the Montopolis Recreation and Community Center facilities (1200 Montopolis Dr.).

The Austin Transportation Department will also be present at the Open House to answer questions around the City-owned parcel adjacent to the historic school property, which was acquired many years ago for future transportation purposes.

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. 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 historic 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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