Mayor Annise Parker Announces Plan to Preserve Historic Rufus Cage Elementary School
October 24, 2011 -- Mayor Annise Parker will this week ask Houston City Council to approve the acquisition of the historic Rufus Cage Elementary School from the Houston Independent School District (HISD). Earlier this month, HISD trustees voted to convey ownership of the property to the City in exchange for a credit of $100,000 that HISD may use to obtain City rights of way or other property the district may need in the future.
"Provided City Council votes to approve this plan, the City will work with the neighborhood to seek proposals for conversion of the building to another use, possibly a community facility," said Mayor Parker. "We will pursue City of Houston Protected Landmark designation to prohibit demolition of the school. My goal is to ensure long-term preservation of the property for the Eastwood community."
The school, one of the oldest in HISD, was built in 1910 and is named after long-time Houston School Board Member Rufus Cage. It is part of a triangular block surrounded by Telephone Road, Baird Street and Claremont Avenue. The southeastern portion of the triangular block with the two-story, four-room brick school building and adjacent small auditorium is approximately 28,700 square feet. The block also includes a large warehouse.
Mayor Parker's office, Council Member James Rodriguez and Council Member Melissa Noriega have worked closely with HISD School Board Member Juliet Stipeche, area residents and civic associations who formed the Historic Rufus Cage Educational Alliance (HRCEA). HRCEA had feared the building would be torn down if HISD followed through on an earlier plan to sell the property to private ventures.
"It has been an honor working with the administration, HISD, and our community to begin the process of preserving and redeveloping Rufus Cage into a project that is appropriate of its rich history," said Council Member Rodriguez.
"Congratulations to the determined citizens that rallied to save this historic school building," said Council Member Noriega. "We look forward to its use as an innovative and beautiful public space. Thank you, HISD and Mayor Parker, for working out the details.”
HISD has statutory authority to donate surplus schools and improvements to a municipality, county, state agency or nonprofit organization.
“This is an opportunity for us to work with the City of Houston to save a historic building,” said Juliet Stipeche, HISD Trustee, District VIII. “We believe this will help keep the building operating as Rufus Cage intended it be used, for education of Houston’s children. This building has been here for 100 years and we want it to be here for another 100 years.”
The school building served as a public school until 1983, when the new Rufus Cage Elementary School was constructed on a nearby site.