The German-English School at San Antonio set out in 1858 to provide free schooling centered around two principles: religious teaching was prohibited and both German and English were required. Julius Berends, a refugee from the German political revolution of 1848, served as the first director at the school, which drew students from across the state. Classes were held at first in a rented hotel, and then in buildings on South Alamo Street – paid for with donations from members of the Casino Club. The building you see today was originally two one-story stone buildings. A larger brick building was added later.
The school thrived as one of the state’s premier educational institutions until the 1890s, when Texas introduced universal public education. The old German-English school holds another distinction: in 1992, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was signed here. The school currently an event center of the Marriott Plaza Hotel.
Watch our Public Education in German Texas video to learn more about German Texan cultural heritage in Texas. This video was produced for inclusion in our German Texans mobile tour found in our Texas Time Travel Tours mobile app. Download the app for more videos and travel information: