In 1849 Dr. John Sutherland purchased the Treviño grant on Cibolo Creek. He had the town platted (Dr. John Sutherland, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/sutherland-john-jr) in 1854, and Block 36A was designated as the “Community Park”. Sutherland Springs’ first school building was a sandstone structure built on the west bank of the Cibolo Creek. A wood-framed school was built on 2nd Street with classrooms, an auditorium, and a gymnasium.
On the eve of the Christmas Holidays, December 19, 1947, a fire completely destroyed the Old Town Sutherland Springs School building. The High School Gymnasium was only slightly damaged. (Floresville Chronicle-Journal, Friday, December 26, 1947, article titled “Sutherland Springs School Destroyed by Fire on Eve pf Holiday”) Sutherland Springs School District was consolidated into the Floresville ISD in 1954. Mrs. Adele Young Donaho was a teacher in the Old Town Sutherland Springs school. She was transferred to teach in Floresville ISD after the fire. She and her husband, Gus, raised their children, owned, and operated a dairy on CR 315 in Sutherland Springs.
Being an active member of the community, Mrs. Donaho, petitioned the Floresville ISD to give the wood of the SS High School gym to the community of Sutherland Springs to build a Community Building. The FISD approved the gift of wood to the SS Community (as per Mrs. Donaho’s daughter Mrs. Cheryl Donaho Dodd) Adele went to work to raise the funds to build the Sutherland Springs Community Building by selling home-cooked fried chicken plates.
The gym floor was installed in the SSCB and is still in good condition. (Quoted from the Texas State Historical Marker application narrative, written by Eileen Anderson, 2014)
As per the plaque on the NE exterior corner of the SS Community Building, the Architect was C. T. Aubin and the Contractor was E. H. Greif, completed in July 1950.
Community Building is a vintage term for a community’s gathering place; the current terminology is Community Center. Since July 1950 the SS Community Building has been the place to gather for community meetings, Ag-Extension Home Demonstration workshops, Town Hall meetings, picnics, family reunions, weddings, and other gatherings. Cheryl Dodd and her sister Marilyn remember most of their family birthday parties, baby, and wedding showers being held in the SSCB.
When searching for another document in the SS Historical Museum I found a notebook titled “Sutherland Springs Civic Club, Constitution June 2, 1949, Sutherland Springs Community Building, & Construction January 25, 1950”. In the binder are the original constitution, the document to the community of SS from Floresville Public School giving the lumber to be harvested from the former SS Gym, the contracts for demolition of the gym, the contract for construction of the SSCB, and the original “worksheets”. Also, one photograph, taken in 1914 of the “Civic League of Sutherland Springs” which was the precursor to the Civic Club which became the SSCA, Inc. This was donated to the SSHM by Margaret Hoke Mc Farland who was the SS Post Master for 20+ years and related to both the Sutherlands and the Polleys.
The “Majestic” Live Oak near the SE exterior corner of the SSCB is 300 + years old and the symbol of our community’s strength.
The volunteers of The Sutherland Springs Community Association, Inc. are the Stuarts for the Sutherland Springs Community Building. With such an important responsibility we could use your help with donations or your time.