The principal at Bradley Middle School is already planning a barbecue reopening party for the Mill Springs Cabin Learning Center, after vandals attacked the historical student teaching venue with spray paint and sledgehammers.
Glass cases were smashed, an original mural was spray painted with graffiti, and valuables, such as a history teacher’s family heirloom gold watch, were taken.
The destruction and vandalism happened on Friday night, but a week later, there are only a few clues left of the damage.
That’s because children, alumni and parents have descended on the cabin and begun a cleaning, fundraising and reinforcement project to protect the little teaching gem, located in the Brookhollow neighborhood.
A lemonade sale on the Fourth of July raised an estimated $3,000, and a bake sale Friday earned nearly $800 more.
The money will go to purchasing security cameras and to rehire the muralist to restore a huge painting of the Alamo that once graced the outdoor wall. It will now be installed on an interior wall.
The venue is unique because it’s funding privately through donations, and all the teaching is done by 6th-graders to give the living history lesson to 4th-graders.
Texas History Mike Bailey only admittedly unlocks the door each day for the activities.
"I put it together 14 years ago but this ... belongs to the kids," he said. "They do the teaching out here. And it belongs to them."
His family watch was among the items stolen by the vandals, but he says he’s still heart-warmed by the outpouring of support and help from the community to restore the center.
Neighbors like Cliff Bingham swung by the school to buy some baked goods and show he cares.
Bingham said, “The graffiti just messed it up, so whatever we can do to help a little bit, (we weill do). That’s all."
Others from the community also showed up with elbow grease.
“We got a week's worth of work done in a day with all those little hands, scrubbing away and helping, getting dirty and sweaty, " said Don Delgado who joined the 30 or so students and parents in in impromptu July 4 cleanup.
Long-term, the charming pioneer-era cabin will now suffer some modernization in keeping with the 21st century, including a burglar-barred door and security cameras.
Donations are being accepted by the school to pay for the updated security. Checks or money orders made payable to Bradley Middle School may be mailed to 14819 Heimer Road, San Antonio, Texas, 78232.
Another workday is scheduled for August, and a grand reopening is planned for October.