Mar 8, 2017

Rufas Cage Elementary School

“The Rufus Cage School is one of the oldest public school buildings still standing in Houston. Built in 1910 as a county school, the two-story mission style brick schoolhouse served generations of East End families until 1983, when a new building was built for Cage Elementary on nearby Leeland Street. Since that time, the original Cage School has served as a storage facility for HISD.

 The Cage School first opened in 1907 on the south side of Telephone Road (aka Sims Bayou Road) as the Kirby School. The school grew quickly and in 1910, a new two-story brick building with four classrooms was built to accommodate this growth on the north side of Telephone Road. Rufus Cage, a member of the Houston School Board for sixteen years and president of the board for eight, donated the land upon which the brick school was built, and the new school was named in his honor. 
Charles P. Jones and J. Rodney Tabor (1886-1955) were the architects of Cage School.  In 1914, Cage School left the suburban county school system a nd became part of the city school district. According to some accounts, sometime between 1914 and 1925, the school closed its doors and the building served as housing to families within the agricultural community. 
In 1983, a new school campus was built for Cage Elementary on Leeland Street and the school moved out of the Telephone Road building. Since this time, the old Cage school building has been used by HISD for storage. The Cage School was included on Greater Houston Preservation Alliance’s Endangered Buildings List in early 2004. HISD placed the property up for auction, but the community persuaded the school district to work with them to find a new use for this historic building with the goal of preserving the property. On October 13, 2011, the HISD Board of Trustees voted to transfer the property to the City of Houston, which was accepted by City Council on October 26, 2011.”

“The Rufus Cage School is a raised two-story masonry building in the mission style. The open ground level was later enclosed and, despite ceilings as low at 6-ft, served as the school library and administrative offices while the school was still operating. The upper two floors feature two large classrooms on each level, with high ceilings, tall windows, beadboard on walls, and wood floors.
In 2008, Hurricane Ike damaged the building. Despite some water damage, recent inspections have determined the building to be structurally sound. Although the building has suffered some deterioration in recent years, it is structurally sound and retains much of its original 1910 appearance.Old photographs reveal that originally brick walls were exposed. At the time of construction the lower level was open, much like a raised cottage. It appears the school was basically a four room school house with two large class rooms per floor. The first floor was reached by the large stairs that reached to the entry porch. Students entered a central hall which fed the two first floor classrooms…. The ground level was not originally enclosed…. The Auditorium/Library space were added at a later date. … it appears the auditorium may date from the late thirties or early forties.”

Archaeological & Historical Commission. “Rufus Cage Elementary School .” CITY OF HOUSTON. Archaeological & Historical Commission, Planning and Development Department , n.d. Web. <>.

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