by Michael Novotny, Salado ISD Superintendent
Earlier this month, the Salado Historical Society dedicated a new Texas State Historic Commission historical marker at the Salado Civic Center. The marker commemorates the life of Alice Joy Gray Hamblem, who donated the land for a Salado Public School in 1924.
For the following 43 years the “Red Brick Schoolhouse” located at 601 North Main Street was the only school in the district. The student enrollment gradually increased enough to need another building so in 1967 the district opened Thomas Arnold Elementary School. Students in grades seven through twelve remained in the Red Brick Schoolhouse for the next twelve years until the district opened Salado High School (which is now Salado Junior High School).
The Red Brick Schoolhouse was vacant starting in 1979 and the building gradually deteriorated to the point of almost being torn down. However, some community members and Salado High School alumni collected over $500,000 in donations to repair and renovate the building in 1992. The building was then renamed the Salado Civic Center.
The school district continues to own the Salado Civic Center and our central office is located there. Several other organizations have rented space in the building over the last 25 years, including the Salado Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center, the Village of Salado, the Salado Public Library, the Salado Historical Society, and the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools (TAPPS). Each of these organizations eventually relocated to another location.
Last month the school district began a seven year lease with Bell County for three of the offices downstairs in the Civic Center. This space is for the five Bell County employees, including Justice of the Peace Don Engleking and Constable Rolly Correa, who were previously leasing space at Horizon Bank.
The Civic Center also has large and small meeting rooms used by many other groups, including the Salado Lions Club, Salado Community Choir, Hidden Springs Homeowners Association, ESL and GED classes, wedding receptions and family reunions.
In addition to recognizing Alice Joy Gray Hamblem for generously donating the land back in 1924,
I would also like to thank the following people that helped restore the Red Brick Schoolhouse into the Salado Civic Center:
Robert H. Cottle