* My addition to the history.... In 1986 BISD chose to close FHS and consolidate FHS, Beaumont High school, to become Central HS. They moved Bowie Jr. High, as we knew it then to
In 1903 there were only two schools in the district directly north of Beaumont that pupils could attend. One was the old Fifth District School, and the other was the Voth School, but both were too far away from population centers.
To correct the situation, the French brothers met with John McDonald, the operator of a little sawmill north of Beaumont, and Charles Oglesbee, a logger, and decided that a new school should be built. Dave French donated the land, John McDonald donated the lumber, and Charles Oglesbee hauled it. This school, a two-room, unpainted structure, was built at Helbig near the intersection of what is, now Redwood and Concord Road.
When it was no longer needed, the little school was moved across the tracks from what is now Dollinger's Steel Company and became Martin Number Two Colored School of the French Independent School District. It remained there until about ten years ago, when the new Booker T. Washington Elementary School was built.
David French had given the land with the stipulation that it could be used so long as the school remained there, but the land was to revert to him if the school were ever moved.
However, the district closer to Beaumont was growing; the people felt that the Helbig School, often called French School, was too far away to send their children. The people voted that the school should be moved.
In 1912, the school board, led by Henry French, son of John J. French, Jr., bought the land on which the new French School was built during the same year.
David's son, also named John Jay, had been a member of the school board of the Helbig School, and two of David's granddaughters taught in the French School District; thus, it was natural that the school should bear the name of the family who had been responsible for its humble beginning and who had a big part in its development.
This early school contained only seven grades; the pupils then went "over into town" to Beaumont High School. The new French School was actually erected in 1912, but classes did not begin until the fall of 1913.
In a Statistical Review of Beaumont for 1925, we read: "The French Schools, in a separate district known as the French Independent School District, has school property to the value of $160,000. There are 721 pupils enrolled, 22 teachers employed, and annual teachers’ salaries aggregating $17,865.00. Mr. L. R. Pietzch is Superintendent."
In 1926 the new French High School was completed ( on Pope). In February, 1927, Mr. Pietzch announced that the French High School was now an affiliated school, equal to any standard eleven or twelve-year high school in the United States.
On March 10, 1947, the Beaumont City Planning and Zoning Commission approved the plat of "Beaumont's Most Modern and Distinctive Residential Subdivision" -Minglewood. The town was expanding rapidly northward and westward.
In 1948, the French Independent School District consolidated with the Beaumont Independent School District.
1953 saw the completion of the present beautiful high school (on Concord).
On November 27 of that year, the following article appeared in The Enterprise: "French High Students Say Good-Bye to Old Building as They Leave to Return Monday to New School." A building can be a cold, impersonal object, but it did not seem so that Wednesday at the old French High School Building. On that Wednesday morning, students heisted a banner on the flag pole in front of the older of the two buildings used by French High students. The banner read: "Dear Old French High, 1912 - 1953." On Monday morning, French High students were to report to a new building off Voth Road for classes.
Wednesday was their final day for classes in the old structure, built in 1912 by a board of education that wanted its children to be surrounded by farms so that these children might learn about growing things. When the bell rang at 3:30 p.m. to dismiss classes in the old building for the last time, students filed from their classes singing ''Auld Lang Syne.' For some of these students, their entire time in the public schools had been spent in the older of the two structures on Tulane Street.
By 1955, French High was already crowded. In May, 1956, a bond election made possible new additions to French High School that would enable the school to double its enrollment.
the old FHS building ( on Concord ). They did change the name to Willie Ray Smith and are still the "Little Buffs".. both those buildings are still standing today.
The building Facing Cleveland, the then Bowie, became French Elm. ( that school was on Pope ) Several years ago they demolished the old Bowie/French Elem. building and built a new school.. Yes, things have changed in the BISD...