Ruins of one room schoolhouse in Texas

Leesville Schoolhouse, Leesville Texas
Date added: September 06, 2022 Categories: Texas School
East elevation (1976)

Located on the east Bank of the Oneal Creek, the school house was constructed about 1870 and remains as one of the few existing structures from the original town site of Leesville.

In September, 1841 Texas President Mirabeau B. Lamar issued land grants on the banks of the Oneal Creek in the southwestern part of Gonzales County and, after a few years, a small settlement developed along the creek. Just after the Civil War ended, a new wave of settlers migrated to the area. Because of their religious fervor, the new settlers were nicknamed Pilgrims by the local people. The newcomers constructed a temporary building which served both as a church on Sunday and as a house for several families for the remainder of the week. In 1888 they built a permanent church which still stands today.

The small community's needs began to grow as demonstrated by the establishment of the first general store and brick kiln about 1868. Two years later, the settlers decided to name the community Leesburg in honor of Lee Guinn, the first white child born in the immediate vicinity. At about this time, Leesburg opened its first school. Built of red brick which was manufactured from red clay at the local brick kiln, the school was named the Leesburg Male and Female Institute and played a crucial role in the education of young people in Leesburg and the surrounding area.

When Leesburg sought to establish its own Post Office in 1878, the request was rejected because a Post Office by that name already existed in the state. As a result, the name was changed to Leesville. The town grew slowly but was an important ranch and farm supply center in the immediate area.

The school house was used continuously until 1918 when a new school building was completed, leaving the old school vacant. A disastrous flood struck Leesville in 1936 and wiped out most of the small town. However, the school house was one of the few buildings that survived the flood. The town relocated a few miles away, abandoning the original townsite for higher ground. The school building remained empty until World War II. At that time, it was used for storage and also housed a small kitchen for the W.P.A. Except for temporarily housing a family for three months, the school house has been vacant since then.

Building Description

One of the few remaining structures from the original site of Leesville, the Leesville School House typifies the one-room vernacular school house of the Texas frontier. Built of red brick from a local kiln, the school was erected about 1870 and served the small community of Leesville until 1918 when a new school was built. Throughout this period, the school played an important role in the education of young people of Leesville.

The school was located on the east bank of the Oneal Creek. Just prior to the construction of the school, a brick kiln was established nearby. By utilizing the available red clay, the kiln was able to manufacture bricks for the school house. When completed the school house was, no doubt, a source of pride for the town of Leesburg (later renamed Leesville).

Facing east, the front elevation is pierced by three flat arch openings. Centrally located, the double door front entrance is flanked on both sides by windows. Though the glass has been broken and the sashes removed, the windows probably displayed 6/6 lights. The metal plate terminating the tie rod is also evident on the east facade and is located just above the front entrance.

Unfortunately, most of the west wall has collapsed. However, an old picture reveals a door near the north corner and a 6/6 light window opposite the door with flat arches above both openings. The flush interior chimney was visible from this elevation, rising from the peak of the gable roof. Originally, the roof was comprised of wood shingles, but it was later replaced by corrugated tin. A wooden addition was constructed on the west end, but in 1918 this section was removed and relocated to a nearby ranch.

The north and south walls both have three openings. The north facade has three symmetrically placed 6/6 light windows with flat arches. The south elevation, on the other hand, displays a single entrance with two 6/6 light windows.

The interior at one time contained three rows of desks, a row against the north and south walls and one row in the middle, thus making two aisles. The desks were small and seated two children. The teacher's desk was located in the western portion of the building. On the north wall near the teacher's desk was a small cabinet built into the wall, which is still evident.

In 1936 a disastrous flood hit Leesville, destroying almost the entire town. The school house was one of the very few structures that survived the flood. When the city rebuilt a few miles away, the old townsite was abandoned, leaving the school house as one of the only structural reminders of that first community. Plans are underway to restore the school house.

Leesville Schoolhouse, Leesville Texas West elevation (1940)
West elevation (1940)

Leesville Schoolhouse, Leesville Texas Interior (1976)
Interior (1976)

Leesville Schoolhouse, Leesville Texas Northeast elevation (1976)
Northeast elevation (1976)

Leesville Schoolhouse, Leesville Texas East elevation (1976)
East elevation (1976)

Leesville Schoolhouse, Leesville Texas West elevation (1976)
West elevation (1976)