Stephen F. Austin High School has a history of more than eleven decades. Three buildings, magnificent for their times, have housed the school. The first campus was built in 1900 as the “finest public high school in the South.” This building, at 9th and Trinity Street, served for fifty-six years as a city school. During the period 1900-1925 it was “old red”, named for the dark red bricks. The building burned in a spectacular fire in 1956. In 1925, John Allan Junior High was moved to the 9th and Trinity location from 1212 Rio Grande. Austin High School moved to the Rio Grande location. In 1975, after fifty years at the Rio Grande campus, the present Lakeside Campus was built.
In 1912, the Austin School board hired Miss Alice Harrison as the only Librarian in the district until the 1920’s. She regularly loaded school books and put them in her Model “T” Ford and took them to the junior high and elementary schools on a regular basis. This could be said to be Austin’s first “Book Mobile”. Miss Harrison was a Librarian of the old school. You were expected to take care of your library business. You did not talk, chew gum, drink beverages or snack. You put your chair under the table when you were ready to leave, you always had a permit signed by your teacher. She was a strict protector of her precious books. A student who did not return checked out library books paid a few pennies a day. By 1930, Miss Harrison had accumulated several hundred dollars in “fines” and commissioned Peter Mansbendel to carve a “Library” wall piece. Magnificently carved in Black Walnut, the sign still hangs, today, in the library at the Lakeside Campus. Mansbendel also carved a relief tondo of Stephen F. Austin in mahogany around 1935, and it was given to AHS by the Bray family in memory Garrie Bray (Class of 1948) in the 1970’s. The Bray are related to the Mansbendels.
The official motto of the school is derived from the Latin phrase “Mens Agitat Molem” contained on the 1883 school seal. The translation most often used is “The Mind Moves the Mass,” meaning that the body is guided by our wisdom and intelligence. The words appear at the bottom of the official school seal. The school seal is one of the oldest surviving traditional artifacts. It was used on transcripts and diplomas. The first tangible evidence is an 1887 diploma. The seal was created when the school had a need for a seal to place on the diplomas of the first graduates, in 1883. The seal was in general use by 1912, when all 1,200 library books received a bookplate inserted by Miss Alice Harrison, the librarian, who served from 1912 to 1947. A number of diplomas have been donated to the Archives by alumni and their descendants, with the earliest dated to 1913. (Learn more about AHS)http://www.austinschools.org/campus/austin/index.htm