A. C. Steere School History
On the corner of Youree Drive and Ockley stands a distinctive Spanish-styled building known as A. C. Steere Elementary School. This style was typically reserved for residences and churches and is exceedingly rare in schools and public buildings in this region. The school’s site was originally the Shreveport polo grounds and was also used as a landing strip for airplanes in the 1920’s. It has been a familiar sight to Shreveporters for over half a century, and as do most city landmarks, it has an interesting heritage.
In 1922, the A. C. Steere Land Developing Company sought the help of Mrs. L. G. Snell in starting a neighborhood school in a newly developed area called Broadmoor. Mrs. Snell was given the use of a car and a driver and was asked to recruit local children to the Broadmoor School. She was able to “round up” seventeen pupils- all in first and second grades. Mrs. Snell became the first teacher in a schoolhouse cottage located at 305 Albany. As the small school grew, Mrs. Ella Durham became the first principal. She remained in this position until 1948.
By 1925, more space was needed for the expanding school, so Caddo Parish School Board purchased five acres of land at Youree Drive and Ockley. Mr. A. C. Steere donated another twelve acres with two stipulations: that the school grounds made from the additional land would be open to the public during non-school hours and that all buildings surrounding the school would be designed in a complimentary Spanish style. The first request continues to be honored. The second, however, proved impractical because stucco was proven to be a poor building material in Shreveport’s rainy climate.
The H. and B. Construction Company completed the present building for a cost of $104,341. The unique Spanish-styled structure had cloakrooms and fireplaces in each classroom. The school was given the name “Broadmoor.” Mr. Steere, who had been impressed with the beauty of Broadmoor Resort in Colorado, found the name appropriate for his newly developed area because of its spaciousness and resemblance to a windswept moor.
The Broadmoor School was opened to students October 29, 1929. Open house was held for the 10 teachers and 275 students. As the Broadmoor area grew, the Broadmoor School grew and changed, also. In 1930, the school was renamed for Mr. A. C. Steere following his death. By 1948, new schools were required to relieve Steere of its “student explosion.” As a result, Arthur Circle and Riverside Elementary Schools were built.
Subsequent additions to the school included a new office wing, cafeteria, and four classrooms built in 1951. A new library and kindergarten complex were added in 1967. Even though the school has had several new additions, the body of the main structure remains unchanged.
Under the leadership of then principal, Mr. Dan Waters, the 1980’s became the decade of restoration. The school was wired and air conditioned in 1981. The cafeteria was air conditioned in 1984. In 1986, the dome was closed providing an indoor gym for students during school hours. The beautiful tile roof was restored in 1987. The exterior plaster restoration was completed in 1988. In 1989, the bell from our city’s namesake, the U.S.S. Shreveport, which served in World War II, was received from the Department of Navy and mounted in our beautiful historic bell tower. Together, the school and the bell make a significant contribution to the architectural landscape of our city.
The decade of the nineties saw a continued flurry of restoration at A. C. Steere. The decade began with the loss of one of the stately oak trees due to an ice storm in 1990. The new flagpole was moved to the center of the front entrance of the school replacing the oak tree. On Thursday, November 21, 1991, A. C. Steere Elementary School Day was proclaimed by Hazel Beard, mayor of the city of Shreveport. On this day, plaques were unveiled stating that A. C. Steere had been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In 1993, the school implemented an Adopt-A-Plant Landscape Project. The school year 1995-1996 was known as the “Year of the Grant.” Lara Bryan and Betty Hochestetler were instrumental in writing the grant known as “Project Sail.” This grant funded a state of the art computer lab for the benefit of all students. Window curtains, stage drapes, and seats in the auditorium were finished and installed in the years of 1996-1997. The outside of the school was also painted during this time. During this year, the A. C. Steere Library received a grant to network the library with all 4th and 5th grade classes. Additional wiring to all other classrooms was funded. In the spring of 1998, the auditorium was air-conditioned.
For 90 years, A. C. Steere has been a vital part of the Shreveport community. In 1999, the school was named the Number 1 School of Academic Achievement in Caddo Parish for State Assessment scores. With the continuous emphasis on academic excellence, A. C. Steere will continue to contribute to the development of future leaders in our city and country.