JESSE JONES Attended Cumberland Hill

25 November 2018 21:58 น. Dallas, Schools ,

THE LATE JESSE JONES, Houston capitalist and publisher who headed the Reconstruction Finance Corporation and became secretary of commerce during World War II, was among the earliest pupils enrolling
in Dallas’s historic Cumberland Hill School. As a nine-year-old boy, Jones transferred to Dallas from rural schools in his native Tennessee.  He entered the third grade in 1883 and continued through the fourth at
Cumberland Hill. He was always proud to be numbered among the more than 30,000 schoolchildren who trooped through the doors, halls, and classrooms of the famous school during its existence of more than
three quarters of a century.

Sedco Renews Cumberland Hill School

Sedco Renews Cumberland Hill School

The Cumberland Hill schoolhouse on North Akard near the new Fairmont Hotel is one of the oldest surviving structures in the city’s educational system. Long a landmark on the northern edge of downtown Dallas, the old brick building appeared to be doomed to destruction when the school board declared it excess property and put it up for sale. It was bought by SEDCO, however, a larger Dallas-based petroleum industry corporation headed by William P. Clements, Jr., who decided that the building, rather than being razed, would be used as the home office of the company.

This required a restoration job costing over $1,000,000. The exterior, including the original roof lines, is being restored; and the interior, comprising 44,000 square feet of office space, is being air conditioned and completely modernized.

Before the Civil War, a wooden school building, erected by the Cumberland Presbyterian Church of Dallas on the hill overlooking the valley of the Trinity River, occupied the site of the present structure. In time this high ground came to be known as Cumberland Hill. It then became a suburb with large, commodious homes rising in country-estate fashion. The schoolhouse was located on School Street, a one-block-long street between Cochran and Caruth (today a part of North Ervay between Ross and Cedar Springs Avenue). The then infant Dallas school system acquired Cumberland Hill School in the early 1880s and replaced the frame schoolhouse in 1888 with a new
two-story brick building costing $20,000, according to Walter W. Schiebel, former principal of Bryan High, whose official history of the Dallas schools was published in 1964. P. G. Halliburton was principal of the school at its dedication in 1889. He tried to envision the generations of children to be served by the school, but it was impossible to read its future precisely because Cumberland Hill would have a unique evolution in the growth of Dallas and its school system.

During its earliest years Cumberland drew most of its pupils from the elite residential areas of North Dallas-the fine homes of the affluent on such fashionable thoroughfares as Ross, Thomas, McKinney, and Maple avenues, as well as other parts of a generally high-rent segment of the city.

Margaret Mosby, beloved teacher at Cumberland and other Dallas schools, recalled that many girl pupils were brought to the school each morning in handsome family carriages driven by liveried coachmen.  On the male side, numerous scions of the founding families of Dallas began their education here, as the late Ted Dealey, himself an alumnus, recounted in his Diaper Days of Dallas. By the end of World War I, the neighborhood surrounding the school had changed materially. By 1930 the student body of Cumberland Hill had become the most cosmopolitan in the city, a veritable “united nations,” or melting pot of democracy. By actual count it numbered twenty-five different nationalities in its student body. In later years the industrialization of Dallas spread into the neighborhood to displace most homes and families, so that by 1963 there were not enough pupils to keep Cumberland Hill
in operation as a grade school. Fittingly enough, Cumberland Hill’s last six years prior to its final closure in 1969 proved to be one of its most distinctive eras. It served as a well-equipped, publicly run trade
training school, which supplied thousands of skilled specialists required by the community in its latest industrial and business expansion.

The Cumberland Hill school building and grounds, which originally cost slightly in excess of $25,000, were sold to SEDCO (the Southwest Drilling Company) for $1,362,000. The restoration calls for a
pitched, standing seam metal roof such as the building’s original one, according to an 1888 lithograph of the building. A seventeen-foot-high cupola surmounted by a twelve-foot decorative weather vane will also
help restore the building as it was when new. W. P. Clements, Jr. and his sister Betty Clements, a math teacher in the Dallas public schools, are children of Mr. and Mrs. W. P. Clements, Sr., longtime residents
of Dallas. A grandson, Gill Clements, is also an official of SEDCO. Like his father, he is a close student of local and Texas history. An extensive collection of Texana is owned by W. P. Clements, Jr., who serves as a member of the board of trustees of the Dallas Historical Society.

Courtesy Dallas Yesterday by Sam Acheson.