Old Bedford School
Old Bedford School, located at 2400 School Lane, signifies one of the earliest traces of Bedford as a community. Constructed in 1914-1915, the original Old Bedford School was an important physical, social, educational, and cultural landmark within Bedford, which was once a small, dispersed, rural community.
The school is also a symbol of small, unincorporated settlements to improve public educational opportunities within their respective communities in the early 20th Century, and a rare link to pre-World War II architecture in northeast Tarrant County.
The Early Years
The original building was completed in July 1915 by the Bedford Common School District and was made possible through a $5,000 bond election. It's first staff comprised of three trustees, four teachers, and a principal who also taught classes. During the 1919-20 school year, the Old Bedford School had three teachers and was considered an eight-grade school. Up until World War II, the school fluctuated between being an eight, nine, or ten-grade school, depending upon the size of the community. In the early- to mid-20th Century, it was relatively small with an estimated 40 people living in the Bedford community in 1924.
Post World War II
Most new construction to the school occurred following the rise in Bedford's population during and after the war. A series of bond elections were passed in the 1950s, which led to a cafeteria on the west side of the building, an additional classroom to the east and a gymnasium to the west, along with a remodeling.
In November 1958, the Bedford Common School District was annexed by a narrow vote to become part of the Hurst-Euless Independent School District - thus creating the Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District. The consolidation allied Bedford with nearby cities with small populations and allowed the smaller communities to remain relatively independent from the larger Fort Worth and Arlington school districts. The move also reflected Bedford's emergence as one the of "mid-cities" in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
A New Chapter
The Old Bedford School served the community's educational needs until 1969, when HEB ISD closed the facility due to its smaller size and relocated students to the new Bell Manor Elementary School nearby.
The City of Bedford purchased the building and surrounding 13-acres in 1973 from HEB ISD, which was using it as a garage and warehouse at the time.
Fire and Restoration
In January 1991, for the third time in the history of the site, a fire ravaged the building but this time it did not completely destroy it. The fire began on the second level where police records were being stored and it was assumed arson was the cause. The damage was extensive, leaving only a fragment of the original building intact. The walls and interior finishes on the second floor were completely destroyed along with the entire roof. Damage to the first floor was only secondary primarily due to weather exposure from above.
The City spent more than $500,000 to renovate and restore the Old Bedford School to its original floor plan and exterior design, but modified to meet current code and accessibility requirements. The second-floor auditorium had seating for 135 people, with original stage placement of the 1957 building. After it was restored in the 1990s, it was used as an interpretive museum depicting early- and mid-20th Century school life in rural northeast Tarrant County, and an event venue.
Today, the bottom floor is used for senior programming due to the ongoing construction of Generations Park at Boys Ranch, where it was previously located. The top floor is used by community arts groups and features an auditorium.
In 1980, the site of the original Old Bedford School became a registered historical site with the Texas Historical Commission. There is a marker to the southeast of the building that reads:
The first Bedford area school met in a log building during the early 1860s. After the Civil War, classes were held in a frame structure at Spring Garden, north of this site. After it burned in the early 1880s, Milton Moore (1828-1914) deeded land here for construction of Bedford College, an elementary and high school academy. In 1893, it was also destroyed by fire and local citizens raised funds for a new elementary school nearby. It was replaced in 1908 by a two-story brick schoolhouse. The school consolidated with the Hurst-Euless District in 1958 and the building was used as a school until 1969.