ANGLETON — Linda Winder and Sue Neill turned a hobby into a home for thousands of school collectibles dating back to the early 1900s.
The public can peruse the collection starting at 1 p.m. Saturday during the grand opening of the Angleton Schools History Center, located in the old junior high school library at 1900 N. Downing.
For 40 years, the two retired Angleton ISD teachers have been gathering school documents, yearbooks, trophies, photographs, uniforms and even Wildcat mascot costumes. Combining their collections with dozens of community donations, they have been able to fill the old library with memorabilia from every decade since the turn of the 20th Century.
“We want to share it with as many people as possible,” Winder said.
Some of the items include a 1909 graduation program, the 1911 valedictorian’s speech, a 1938 football season ticket holders’ list and a 1950s Central Elementary School intercom system.
Many items were purchased at garage sales and resale shops or saved from being thrown away, Winder said.
“I just couldn’t see it go in the trash,” Winder said.
Winder and Neill developed a knack for spotting historical items, sometimes plucking photographs, frame and all, from Angleton ISD Public Information Officer Hanna Chalmers’ office.
“We’ve begged, borrowed and stole,” Neill joked.
Chalmers, who also contributed to the center’s collection, said many people opt to toss clothes, documents and yearbooks away rather than hold on to them.
“They don’t look at it as history,” Chalmers said. “But in five or 15 years, it’s history.”
The school district occasionally did the same because it didn’t have a place to archive the items, Winder said. But instead of demolishing the old junior high school library a couple years ago, the district kept the building, remodeled it and let Winder and Neill use it for the history center. The district will maintain the property and pay for utilities and upkeep while volunteers will operate the center itself. Winder and Neill have already received plenty of help from volunteers, many of whom are in the Angleton Alumni Association.
Don’t call the new history hub a “museum” though, the former teachers said. The center is intended to be a hands-on place for residents to research and reminisce on the city’s school history. The center includes academic, athletics and band memorabilia from Angleton’s early schools and the all-black Marshall schools.
“I think it’s a great place for learning,” Chalmers said.
The historians hope the center soon will host school reunions, special events and class projects. They also are still collecting memorabilia on a daily basis. The current collection is just the “tip of the iceberg” of what the center could contain, Winder said.
“It won’t ever be finished,” Neill said. “It’s been fun. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”
After Saturday’s ribbon-cutting, the center will be open every Wednesday afternoon for people to visit.
To donate to the center, call Winder at 979-849-6538, Neill at 979-849-5182 or Chalmers at 979-864-8040.
Michael Freeman covers Angleton ISD for The Facts. Contact him at 979-237-0154.