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German school chartered in Austin


On this day in 1858, the German Free School Association of Austin became the first Austin school chartered by the Texas legislature, for the "education of the youth, the promotion of useful knowledge, and the advancement of the sciences." The school was to be "accessible to all alike without regard to religious opinions." The two-story school building was constructed in 1857 with volunteer labor on land donated by the von Rosenberg family overlooking Waller Creek. Living quarters were added in 1872 for the schoolmaster, Julius Schuetze. Classes were taught in English, probably with German as a second language. After the school closed in the 1880s, Schuetze stayed in the family quarters and eventually purchased the rest of the building. The former school building changed hands several times after Schuetze's death. In August 1991 artist Kelly H. Stevens deeded the German Free School property to the German-Texan Heritage Society, with the understanding that it would be preserved for future generations. The building is now the headquarters of the German-Texan Heritage Society and the German Free School Guild. The guild was established in 1993 as a volunteer service arm of the society to support the facility as a historic cultural center with a library, tours, beginning-German classes, and other regularly scheduled programs.

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