Seagoville residents try to save old schoolhouse from wrecking ball




Posted on February 17, 2011 at 2:21 AM

Updated Thursday, Feb 17 at 4:30 PM

SEAGOVILLE — In Seagoville, one of the oldest towns in Dallas County, most of the old buildings are either boarded up or painted over.

All except an old schoolhouse that people from Barbara Gibson's generation are trying to save.

"Almost all the folks who started this town went to school here," she said.

Built in 1909 for $10,000, the old red schoolhouse was once the town's only school, and for decades it was the heart of the community and a source of pride.

"It's been a gathering place for our children and parents," Gibson said. "It's tied us together in many ways."

The Dallas ISD passed the building over to the Seagoville Historical Commission, which turned it into a museum.

Billie Frank Phillips spearheaded the effort, but the plans started to fail when she got cancer five years ago.

Since then, the building has fallen into disrepair, and it has now been condemned by the city. The DISD took it back and — for safety reasons — wants to tear it down.

But preservationists say they could save the building if the district will just give it back.

"First of all, we need the deed," said Gay Bingham, president of the Seagoville Historical Commission. "Once we have that in place, we have roofers and materials ready to go. We have donations for some windows and then with that we can get grants."

Bingham's mother wrote the society's book on Seagoville. They're using its proceeds and social media to drum up support to save the school.

Gay Bingham says it's an uphill battle. "My mom has a saying, and she put it on the T-shirts. It says, 'Without a past, you have no future.'"

But what they see as history, DISD views as a legal liability for taxpayers — one it still plans to demolish this summer.