PA grad museum memorabilia saved

Published 6:31 pm Monday, August 29, 2016

Memorabilia from the three former high schools in Port Arthur as well as a former Catholic high school have been saved from the wrecking ball.

The city of Port Arthur is in the process of demolishing dilapidated structures in the 400 block of Procter Street and while securing one of the buildings — the former Port Arthur Graduate Museum, a group of people discovered the numerous items.

Boxes and boxes of trophies and plaques, banners heralding sports accomplishments and framed photos of drill teams and drum and bugle corps have sat collecting dust since the closing of the museum representing Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Stephen F. Austin and Bishop Byrne high schools.

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“In attempting to secure the building we found the items,” Port Arthur Police Officer Al Gillen said.

Gillen understood the significance of the memorabilia to the area and worked to move what could be salvaged.

Inside the mostly vacant building Sue Simon and Nancy Gillen, 1969 graduates of Thomas Jefferson High School, picked up an old football program from TJ. Pushing off the dust, the women flipped through the pages noting the different businesses that supported the school.

“It’s sad to see it like this,” Simon said of the former museum.

Nancy Gillen agreed.

“It’s very sad that it’s been neglected and since TJ is no longer here, it makes it sadder,” Nancy Gillen said.

Not far away was a tall wooden cutout of an eagle representing SFA State AAA co-semifinal champions 1983 and a large frame filled with faded photos of TJ Red Hussars 1982.

On the upper floor of the building were more items. Banners touting Lincoln High School State 4A basketball champions 1995 and state final four banners from 1993-1994 were still in good shape with vibrant purple and gold.

Other, much older items were also boxed or stacked in the room in various states of decay.

The Port Arthur Graduate Museum came about around the time Port Arthur Independent School District consolidated its three high schools to form Memorial High School. But it wasn’t the city or school district housing the items but alumni of the various schools.

The late Donna Wortham and the late Liz Segler, both of whom were employed with the district, were major players in running the museum until its closure.

Al Gillen did not state where the items would be stored but that he has been in contact with city and school officials.

Mary Meaux: 721-2429

Twitter: @MaryMeauxPANews