Texas Schoolhouse Series, Old Baxter Schoolhouse  LbNA # 34835 (ARCHIVED)

Placed DateSep 2 2007
LocationBaxter/Athens, TX
Planted Bymonarchtrailer    
Found By Texas Pokey
Last Found Nov 5 2007
Hike Distance?

As best as can be determined, classes started at the Baxter Schoolhouse (Baxter, Texas) in 1907. Classes were held in the Woodmen of the World building.
On March 20, 1907, Willie E. Johnson and wife deeded one acre of land to the Woodmen of the World chapter, and a two-story frame building was erected on the site. This one acre makes up the front part of the present location of the Baxter Schoolhouse — which is still in use as the Baxter Community Center. The original two-story structure was located about 100 feet northeast of the present building's northeast corner, in front of the well that still exists.

The Woodmen of the World building served as lodge, church and school. A Methodist church was built on the north side of the acre, and school was conducted there until it was destroyed by a storm in 1914.

On Sept. 13, 1915, Mr. and Mrs. Johnson deeded another acre directly behind the first lot. It was at this time that the Baxter Schoolhouse was built. The cornerstone — which has suffered considerable deterioration, but still exists — bears the date of Oct. 1, 1915, and was laid by Camp No. 1408 of the Woodmen of the World. School trustees were J. Taylor, T.N. Harrison and A.F. Schumacher.

This building is believed to be among the first — if not the first — brick schools in Henderson County, Texas.

Classes were taught in the Baxter Schoolhouse until the end of the spring session of 1943. At that time, the Baxter School District was consolidated with the Athens Independent School District. The building and land became property of AISD.

Even after the end of the Baxter School District, the building continued to be used by the community for various purposes, including quilting bees, family get-togethers and as an election voting location. In addition, the McRuiz family lived there for several years.

On Jan. 29, 1951, the AISD sold the property to the Baxter Home Demonstration Club for $475. The building was used by the club for a number of years, but, as interests and needs dwindled, the building gradually fell into disrepair.

It remained in that state until the 1970s, when, thanks to the concerns of Tim Forester, Buck Cure, Jack Little and others, general repairs were made. It was during this time that the annual Baxter Homecoming — an event still held each October — began, using the Schoolhouse as the site of the reunion.

On April 8, 1997, the property was deeded to the Baxter Community Center for community use. Several families hold family reunions in the old Schoolhouse, and the building remains available for other general purposes. A small fee is charged to offset utilities, but maintenance and upkeep are supported by volunteer labor and donations.

The old Baxter Schoolhouse building has served the community in an enduring manner for close to a century. At the height of enrollment during the early 1920s, almost 200 students were schooled each year in four rooms. As long as the building can be maintained, it will continue to be a place of youthful times and memories. It has served the community well.

To the letterbox:

From Athens, travel Hwy 175 East towards Jacksonville. The small community of Baxter is located 10-12 miles outside of Athens. After you pass the Baxter city limits sign you will see the old Baxter Store on your right, and County Road 4511. You will go North on CR 4511,(or left) approximately 1 mile. The Old Baxter Schoolhouse will be on your left. Turn into the schoolhouse area and park close to the front door. Facing the school, you will see a very large oak tree to your left about 50 steps. It is the only tree to your left that is not on the fencerow. The letterbox is hidden behind this tree covered by the usual debris. Please rehide well.