Historic ‘Montopolis Negro School’ faces demolition

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A rally Friday afternoon hoped to stop the impending demolition of the Montopolis Negro School, described as an important artifact of Austin’s segregated education.

Fred McGhee, author of “Austin’s Montopolis Neighborhood,” said, “The history of segregated education in America, in Austin, matters a great deal, and trying to erase it from the landscape isn’t going to make the history of institutional racism go away.”

The school was founded around 1891 on Bastrop Highway. In 1935, a storm destroyed the school, which led to its relocation next to St. Edward’s Baptist Church on Montopolis Drive the same year.

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Montopolis Negro School (KXAN Photo)

McGhee says Montopolis, not yet part of Austin at that time, served as the gateway to southeast Travis County, home to cotton plantations and largely African-American sharecroppers, along with an increasingly Hispanic population.

Georgia Steen went to the school. “My sisters and brothers and I all attended Montopolis School for Negro Children, starting in 1941. This property is not just a piece of real estate, it is a cultural landmark.”

The current property owner, who is seeking a demolition permit, has told the Montopolis Neighborhood Association he will sell the property if properly compensated. The community is now reaching out to Austin City Council to help preserve the site.

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