SANTA FE — Students, local history lovers and city and school district officials gathered Wednesday at the Old School Museum for the dedication of a historical marker commemorating Santa Fe’s original consolidated high school.

The 1928 building, which housed classes for 21 years and served as the school district’s administration office until last March, is now a museum dedicated to preserving the history of the school and the three communities it helped bring together.

The Texas Historical Commission recognized the building, which had been eligible for some time, after Santa Fe High School senior Joshua Stenzel researched and submitted an application for a class project a little more than a year ago.

Stenzel did the honors Wednesday and unveiled the marker.

“In doing this, I gained a much better appreciation of the town I call home,” he said.

Santa Fe Mayor Ralph Stenzel, Joshua’s grandfather, also spoke during the ceremony.

“Today’s dedication is dear to my heart because of my longstanding love of the area’s history,” he said. “I am happy to say my grandson has been bit by the same bug.”

The dedication of the historical marker ensures that future generations can learn from the stories contained in the former high school and museum, Santa Fe Area Historical Foundation President Robert Bear said.

He said he wasn’t always sure what the future of the building would hold.

“I am confident that with the placement of this historical marker, it will be saved from the wrecking ball for the city to continue to enjoy,” Bear said.

The towns of Alta Loma, Arcadia and Algoa formed around the Santa Fe Railway in the late 19th century.

Residents saw the benefit of forming a consolidated, state-accredited high school. 

Some friendly rivalries persisted, but the communities rallied behind the new school district, which local historians said helped pave the way for the consolidation of the city of Santa Fe years later.

The Old School Museum stands as a monument to the area’s history, Bear said.

Contact reporter Alex Macon at 409-683-5244 or alex.macon@galvnews.com.

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