Monday, June 30, 2014

Austin: Don’t Tear Down our School

Original Metz Elementary
Austin Public Library

In the eastern part of Austin, Texas in 1915 Metz Elementary school was built. This school served a large number of Spanish-speaking students. In 1916, the Austin School Board decided these students could be better served at a separate school.

The Mexican-American parents in this neighborhood disagreed. They worried that they might not be able to provide transportation and they felt this segregation would not provide their children with the same opportunities.

While the board never officially rescinded their decision the Mexican-American children kept at Metz were never asked to leave. Eventually the matter was quietly dropped.

Hamilton M. Metz
Austin School Board member, 1903-1915
For seven and half decades Metz served this community--several generations of the same families started their school careers at this neighborhood school. By 1990 the Austin School District deemed the old crumbling building “unsafe” and plans were made to tear it down.

It was at this point the paranormal trouble started.

Odd Happenings Every Day

Joe Torrez’ trucking and excavation company was contracted to do the demolition. * He thought this “job” was going to be simple but it turned into a nightmare for him and the men that worked for his company.

Both Torrez and his men heard the sounds of children’s laughter in the bathroom stalls in the old school. The work crew also heard the sounds of fingernails scratching down blackboards in classrooms that were deserted.

After this, most of his men refused to enter the crumbling school by themselves.

Equipment they were using to demolish the school started to stall or break down without explanation. Every time one bulldozer was driven close to the old brick building it’s engine stopped. A truck was sent to the school with various replacement parts but it broke down en route to the school.

Several workmen’s wristwatches also stopped working.

Everyone Wants to Quit

Torrez by this time was having trouble-keeping men on the job. They either quit or called in sick.

It seems everyone felt that “something otherworldly” was impeding the demolition of Metz. Torrez in response decided to call in a Catholic lay evangelist to perform an exorcism.

Elias Limon walked through the school, sprinkling holy water and blessing each room. Unfortunately, his efforts didn’t work. Just a few days later a wall came crashing down and killed a workman.

By the time the school was completely demolished--Torrez and his men were 6 months behind schedule and more than half of his work crew had quit or refused to return to work.

The Activity Continues

Courtyard at new school.
A modern Metz Elementary was built on the same spot in 1992. The old school was so beloved by the community that the architect used the old building’s bricks to pave the new school’s courtyard. Both teachers and students at this school have reported hearing and seeing child ghosts.

While working on the site Joe Torrez rescued one tree and transplanted it in his daughter’s yard. Since, many witnesses have reported hearing the sounds of children’s voices coming from this tree.

* Jo-Anne Christenson, Ghost Stories of Texas
   Alan Brown, The Big Book of Texas Ghost Stories

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