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Courtney School Approved for Preservation Texas’ 2023 Most Endangered Places List

May 17, 2023 - 00:00
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Two Rivers Heritage Foundation announced that Preservation Texas selected the Courtney School, built in 1913, for a place on its exclusive 2023 list as one of the Most Endangered Places (MEP) in Texas.

In 1985, leaders from nonprofit preservation groups around the state of Texas met in Austin to discuss the vacuum created by the demise of the Texas Heritage Council, an arm of the Texas Historical Foundation. With its initial trustees at the helm, Preservation Texas, Inc. was incorporated in December 1985.

When Courtney School opened in 1913, the town of Courtney was a hustling and bustling town. The railroad was easy access and cotton was king in the Brazos River bottom. There were busy mercantile stores, blacksmith shops, a gristmill, a sawmill, saloons, a grange hall, along with churches and a post office. The main highway north to Navasota was called the King’s Trail, now named Grimes County Road 326.

By 1950, the two-story red brick Courtney school had only a few white children as students remaining in Courtney. Over the decades, Courtney’s population kept diminishing as World War I and World War II with its veterans, and other residents left for better employment.

At this time most white children began attending Navasota’s schools. During these several decades, the African American children were being educated in separate area unregulated schools such as one called Red Hill and the Templeman Hill School. In the late 1920s, a Rosenwald school was built at the edge of Courtney.

In the early 1950s the Courtney School became an African American school as a part of the Navasota Independent School District. It would be 1966, with integration, that the African American rural students were then bused to Navasota and the Courtney school building closed and has essentially been vacant and deteriorating over the last 57 years.

In 1969, the Navasota Independent School District deeded this 1913 building and its 3-acre site to the Courtney-Lynn Grove Community Center. With all the Courtney-Lynn Grove Community Center’s valiant efforts, the building is vacant and in need of extensive restoration for use as a community center or area museum for Grimes County.

With Preservation Texas placing the Courtney School on it 2023 Most Endangered Places list it opens the opportunity for the Courtney-Lynn Grove Community Center to acquire donations and grants for restoration.

Preservation Texas is the only private, nonprofit membership organization in Texas that is dedicated to being a full-service statewide preservation organization. Headquartered in San Marcos, Preservation Texas is a private, 501(c)(3). They receive no operational funding from the government, and rely on membership dues, grants, and donations to support their work. A volunteer Board of Directors, drawn from a range of professional and community backgrounds, governs the organization and provides direction to staff.

The annual MEP list is a signature program of Preservation Texas which has spotlighted imperiled historic places across Texas since 2004. It is designed to draw statewide attention to Endangered Places so that local advocates can build momentum toward their protection. Preservation Texas can also provide technical assistance and letters of support for sites that have been included on the list. This exclusive list only included 13 places on the 2022 list, se we are most honored to have Courtney School on the 2023 list.