W. B. Connell Middle School History
Looking Back … At the Old Hot Wells School
Do you remember the old Hot Wells School that was located for many years on Hot Wells Blvd. and Russi Street?
The first Hot Wells School had its beginning in 1912, in a two-room frame building on Dullnig Court and Groos Avenue with two teachers for the seven grades. These large rooms were heated by small stoves filled with chopped wood that was furnished by the parents when they brought their children to school. The school building also served as the center for the social events of the community.
Attendance was low at first, but around 1914 a larger building was needed, so J. M. Putman donated some pasture land that he owned past the city limits near the Hot Sulphur Wells Resort. Plans were then made to build a two-story red brick building with eight rooms—four up and four down and a basement—on Hot Wells Blvd. The school was completed in 1915, in time to accommodate the September enrollment of that year. There were six teachers and J. Lee Robinson served as principal.
R. W. May became principal in 1920, and under his supervision more upper grades were added extending through the ninth grade. When May became Bexar County Superintendent of Schools in 1934, W. B. Connell assumed the position of principal for the next 24 years. During this time more upper grades were added. By 1937, a new building program was undertaken with more new classrooms added and a large auditorium erected. A favorite teacher was Ruby Gibson who taught the first grade classes for many years. Later, the original red brick building was torn down to its superstructure and a modern building was built around it for the high school. The elementary grades were then separated.
During the years, Hot Wells School had an all-girl Drum and Bugle Corps and Pep Squad called the "Scotch Lassies"—they wore plaid uniforms—and a "Blue Devils" football and basketball teams, a Student Council and National Honor Society. School colors were blue and gold. The parents voted to join the San Antonio Independent School District in 1951, and the last graduating class of the high school was in May 1952.
There was still an increase in enrollment without the high school, so new courses were offered for the Hot Wells Junior High School. New classrooms, two large home economics rooms, a band hall, Industrial Arts Building and a cafetorium were added.
After Connell became principal of Muriel Forbes Elementary School in 1957, Carey L. Sinclair was named principal of Hot Wells Junior High School. There was a faculty of 49 teachers and a student body of 1,225 in 1960. The school was re-named for Connell in 1984. Most of the old Holt Wells facilities are now the W. B. Connell Middle School.
Former students and faculty of the old Hot Wells School held an All-school Re-union of classes from 1912-1964 on Saturday, Aug. 24, 1996, in the Jersey Lily Ballroom at Pearl Brewery. There were 460 persons in attendance.
Mrs. Rose Zadik Kilgore, who has attended all of the Hot Wells School reunions, started attending the school in 1922 as a second grade student and continued through the ninth grade. She graduated from Brackenridge High School in 1931. Also attending this year’s reunion were the three daughters of Mr. Connell who were graduates –Zula Merle Morehead (1942), Eulene Lee (1946), and Wilma Speer (1950), and the four Smith brothers, Tyler (1930), Joe K. (1934), Jimmy C. (1940) and Bobby (1943).
PAGE 6 THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 1996 SOUTHSIDE REPORTER
written by Virginia Beard