Last week the launch of the San Pedro Creek Improvements Project kicked off with a celebration at Louis W. Fox Tech High School, where ceremonies at the football stadium featured speakers and performances to mark the start of construction on the $175 million project.
Cited by historians as the location of the city’s original Spanish settlement, the creek’s natural appearance was largely obliterated decades ago when the concrete channel was installed to avert downtown flooding. But renewed interest in redeveloping the western part of downtown, from near Fox Tech to South Alamo Street, led to an intricate improvement plan to change the landscape of the area.
Slated for completion in time for San Antonio’s tri-centennial celebration in 2018, Phase One of the project spans from Fox Tech HS to Cesar Chavez Blvd. This made us here at G. W. Mitchell (GWM) a little nostalgic seeing as we built the high school in 1972.
In the Beginning
San Antonio’s first high school finally got a permanent home in 1882, when a three-story stone building was constructed on Acequia Street (later Main Avenue), opening in 1883. This school was called High School and Central Grammar until 1886 when it was consolidated with another neighboring school and became known as School No. 1. The city’s first secondary school officially became known as the San Antonio High School, but familiarly was referred to most often as simply “the high school” or “High School.”
The campus name changed after Brackenridge High School opened in 1917, and the original school was renamed after its location – Main Avenue and was to serve students located in the north side of town. Development to the north moved faster, and Main Avenue, the older facility, was showing signs of strain by the late 1920s. Thanks to a bond issue passed in 1929 before the stock market crash, SAISD was able to build the opulent new Thomas Jefferson High School on otherwise undeveloped land considered to be far northwest of the city.
Main Avenue subsequently was renamed and repositioned as San Antonio Vocational and Technical High School, often shortened to San Antonio Tech. This was largely the doing of Louis William Fox (1889-1978) who grabbed the old Main Avenue High School building and turned it into a vocational school. Fox, who served as principal of Tech, retired in 1949. In his honor, the school was renamed the Louis W. Fox Vocational and Technical School and received its last name change in early 1972, which is when GWM comes into play.
During the 1972-1973 school year, Fox Tech students attended Brackenridge High School while the Main Ave. buildings were demolished and replaced by a $5 million academic complex. Bartlett Cocke was the architect on the project while Melvin Mitchell, our current Chairman of the Board and second generation leader of GWM leadership, oversaw the construction as the Project Manager.
In 95 years, G.W. Mitchell has seen many changes in San Antonio. A company rich with history, we value the importance of improvements like the San Pedro Creek project and can’t wait for the changes in the area to come to fruition – even if it does mean changes are inevitable for projects like Fox Tech we built decades ago.