~ CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION ~
CRESSON SCHOOL LOCATION DATES TO 1898
Reprinted from Hood County News dated October 21, 1998
by Alicia Pounds, Staff Writer
The mission-style golden brick building standing in the community of Cresson holds a mountain of memories for former students.
Saturday, the school building will be the site of the annual Cresson Fall Festival. This year, the fair is combined with the annual Homecoming festivities in celebration of the school location’s centennial. One hundred years ago, Madison Jones granted block 8 in Cresson for “school purposes.”
The property has been the site of three different school buildings. The first structure was a white frame building. The second, which burned in 1930, was a red building. Shirley Robert Smith, a 1941 graduate of Cresson, remembers the fire.
“I started first grade in an old, red brick building that burned during the night in October,” said Smith. “No one knows how it started. There were lots of schools that had fires back in those days. We had no fire department (so) all we could do was sit and watch it burn.”
The 75 students were left without a school and local churches pitched in to help. The lower grades went to the Methodist Church and the higher grades attended school in the Baptist Church.
Victor B. Penuel, who was superintendent at the time, designed the new school building. People from across the state came to see the modern structure, which had not only electricity but also running water.
“Our school superintendent drew the plans for the building and he drew heavily on the Alamo theme,” said Smith. “It was kind of fascinating for us to go to school with lights. It showed the superintendent was really interested in building a building good for the kids and attractive for everyone.”
Penuel’s dream of turning the school’s auditorium into a gymnasium never came true though. Penuel originally wanted a gymnasium in the middle of the school but the school trustees said it would cost too much money. An auditorium was built instead but Penuel also hoped to turn it into the much-anticipated gymnasium.
The basketball teams continued to play outside on red clay dirt courts that were packed down with road graders. When it rained, Smith said the basketball teams did not practice or games were canceled.
It was not until Smith’s daughter was in school that basketball goals were put up in the auditorium. Even then, Smith said it was still more an auditorium than a gymnasium.
In addition to basketball, there were several other sports offered. Football was not one of them because the school was too small. Tennis, volleyball and track were available for students. Smith said track was an area that Cresson students excelled in.
“One year, three Cresson boys won the Southwestern Exposition Track Meet in Fort Worth with a cane pole,” Smith said. “They all three tied with a jump of 12-foot 6-inches.”
The three that tied were G. W. Smith (Shirley’s brother), Tom Scott and Ray Rodgers. It was around 1935.
The school closed in 1967 when Cresson students merged with Granbury. The building has been used as the town’s community center since 1980.
Other memories from the Cresson School can be found at the day-long event Saturday. The festivities kick off at 9 a.m. and include craft booths, a country store, lunch in the cafeteria and entertainment. An auction starts at 1 p.m.
A hand-made memorial quilt will be awarded in a fund-raising drawing. There will also be a mini-post office where people can buy a pictorial cancellation stamp designed for the 100-year celebration.