Newspaper Article About old School

Old Kemah School Picture #1

Old Kemah School Picture #2

Old Kemah School Now

July 31, 2004, 10:35PM

New future for old Kemah school

City has plans for a museum and visitors center


Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle


 What: Kemah Historical Society   When: Meets fourth Monday of each month   Where: The Kemah Community Center    Why: To preserve Kemah history   Dues: $15 for an individual; $25 for a family Those interested in joining are encouraged to attend the Aug. 23 meeting at 7 p.m. For more information, call Melissa King at 281-334-0364. To volunteer for the group's Dec. 13 Casino fund-raiser, contact Pepper Coffey at 281-334-2398.      

KEMAH - This Galveston Bay community has seen its landscape change drastically with the addition of the hugely popular Kemah Boardwalk.

Near the boardwalk, the small, woodframe houses that years ago were home to locals have been transformed into antique or gift shops.

Amid the changes, some who were born and raised in Kemah and continue to make it their home have formed the Kemah Historical Society in hopes of preserving its past.

Among the group's goals is to work with the city to restore the original Kemah School, which in recent years has been home to Boat Shoes Unlimited, a retail store that sells sailing apparel at 705 Texas 146.

The building is significant because it is one of the few original public structures in the community. Although the year of construction is unclear, the earliest photographs of the building date to 1920 or 1921. Some records show it was in existence in 1901.

Plans call for the schoolhouse to be moved a few blocks to the intersection of 6th and Bradford, where it will be renovated to serve as a museum and the city's visitors center.

The city is working to buy the building, although no selling price has been reached, Kemah City Administrator Bill Kerber said.

Officials would like to move the building because its present location is prone to flooding. Part of the city's flood remediation plan calls for moving the school and three adjacent businesses. Kerber said the area would then likely become a retention pond.

The school is a source of fond memories for some local residents, including former Kemah City Councilwoman Sylvia Streater, who attended the Kemah School from 1945 to 1948.

In 1948, students left the schoolhouse to attend a new school built across Texas 146 in the same location as the current Stewart Elementary School.

Streater recalled the old Kemah School as having two classrooms. First and second-graders were taught in one room by Nadine Sellers, while third and fourth-graders were in the other room with L.D. Rice. At some point, an addition was built to make room for fifth and sixth-graders taught by LaVace Stewart, who also was principal.

"I don't remember much about the school except playing outside," said Streater, 65, who operates Sylvia's Cozy Corner gift shop in her family's home at 6th and Kipp.

"I don't know if it was uncomfortable (because of the hot and humid area). I know the windows opened."

A former teacher, Streater shared her memories of old Kemah at a recent meeting of the historical society with 22 people in attendance.

The historical society hopes to increase the awareness of Kemah's history for those who live there and those who visit. Already, old-timers have visited Stewart Elementary to share their memories of the area and its people.

"We actively collect, document and preserve artifacts and memorabilia related to Kemah's past from the American Indians up to the significant events of the present day," the group's mission statement says. <>

Return to History Page  Return to Pictures Page  Return to Museum Page