A modern Brackenridge High School sits on the edge of the King William neighborhood at the corner of S. St. Mary’s and Eagleland Streets. However, many present residents may not have seen the imposing structure built in 1916 as the George W. Brackenridge High School, which was designed by the wellknown American architect Alfred Giles. Its first class graduated in 1918. The accompanying drawing shows a 1917 rendering of the new campus looking from S. St. Mary’s Street. The accompanying photo is a 1960 view of the school’s main entrance. At some point, the decision was made to demolish the building and construct a new air conditioned school.

 

It was considered more economical to build new rather than update the existing facility and it was torn down. Also lost were many neighborhood homes between S. St. Mary’s and E. Guenther Streets as the school campus was expanded. From an historical viewpoint it is too bad progress sometimes comes with a high price.

At about the same time, another San Antonio District school, the Philis Wheatley High School, was closed and it and Brackenridge were consolidated at the Brackenridge site on S. St. Mary’s Street. The new school opened in 1974 as Philis Wheatley High School with various aspects of the two former schools incorporated into the new school. For example, the colors were combined but the mascot was the Eagle as at Brackenridge. But the spirit that was felt for Brackenridge survived. For some time, alumni of B r a c k e n r i d g e fought to restore the school, and in 1988 Brackenridge reopened in the new building with the original colors, mascot, school paper, year book, etc. all intact. There are probably many King William and Lavaca residents who are former graduates of old Br a cken r i d g e . There are at least four in the last block of Mission Street, including the collaborators on this story.

Santiago Escobedo
Alan Cash