At its regular meeting Nov. 27, the Beeville Independent School District board of trustees ordered the district’s attorneys to investigate the best procedure to follow to deed the historic school over to the Lott-Canada Alumni Association.
The board’s vote followed the decision by the Coastal Bend College board to transfer all its services and programs back to the Beeville campus, citing budgetary reasons.
The college was using the building to house many of its continuing education courses also with adult basic education courses. Those classes have since been moved back to the college’s main campus.
BISD Superintendent Dr. Sue Thomas said the transfer would include some deed restrictions that would prevent the association, for instance, from razing the building.
The association is confident it can meet any BISD requirements, says Sheila Heath, the association’s vice president.
“We hope to keep it up,” she says.
The association maintains a small museum in the building, telling the history of the school built for the education of African-Americans in Beeville.
Construction on the Lott-Canada School began in 1931. Financial assistance from the Julius Rosenwald Fund of Chicago helped complete a brick schoolhouse with four classrooms and an auditorium. The school was named to honor Mose Lott and Allen Canada, carpenters who built the previous school.
It is one of more than 500 such schools built in Texas during segregation with the financial help of Julius Rosenwald, who provided more than $28 million to help school construction in 883 counties of 15 states nationwide.
Rosenwald was a philanthropist who ran Sears, Roebuck & Co. during the Great Depression.
In Texas, some 30 of the buildings remain; at least 20 still used as schoolhouses.
The local school was closed in 1964 as a result of desegregation; the building continued to be a part of the BISD. It was leased to CBC in 2008.
Last year, 75 alumni, friends, family members, supporters and community leaders gathered to unveil a National Register of Historical Places plaque on Lott-Canada’s exterior wall.
The school was awarded the distinction on Dec. 7, 2010, by the U.S. Department of Interior after exhausting efforts by local volunteers.
“Since the beginning, the Lott-Canada School has served the educational needs of the citizens of Beeville,” then CBC President Dr. Thomas Baynum said. “And it remains one of the very few Rosenwald schools to continue service as an educational site. That is an incredible achievement.”
Heath says the pending transfer of the deed will be the main topic on the agenda when the association’s full board of directors meets Dec. 15.
Bill Clough is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or at beepic@mySouTex.com.