One can only imagine the impression the scene would have made on a wandering cedar chopper or a fence-riding cowhand from nearby Davenport Ranch.
It was a bleak, wintry St. Stephen’s Day, Dec. 26, 1949, in the sparsely populated Hill Country west of the state capital. A pilgrim caravan pulled up at a remote plateau, and from the cars issued a stream of ladies in calf-length coats and furs, gentlemen in suits and wool overcoats, and clergy in bright vestments.
That memorable afternoon the group witnessed a ground-breaking ceremony in which Bishop John E. Hines, headmaster William Brewster, Trustees, and other participants turned spadefuls of rocky soil on a spot that would come to be known simply as the “Hill.” Biting winds did not cool the enthusiasm of Hines, Brewster, the Trustees, their families, and other dedicated folk, who saw their dream of an Episcopal school in Central Texas finally realized.
“This is a happy day for all of us,” the Rev. Brewster said. “We promise to dedicate ourselves to education that concerns the whole person: body, mind and spirit.”
Hines was also touched by the experience. He later wrote in his diary: “St. Stephen’s Day. Broke ground for St. Stephen’s Episcopal School. The sun came out just as the ground was being turned . . . symbolic, we all hope of the warmth and light which a Christian school is destined to create for the whole Southwest.”
On Oct. 23, 1999, St. Stephen’s, a coeducational boarding and day school, commemorated the 50th anniversary of its ground breaking in a ceremony on campus attended by alumni, parents, Trustees, and other friends. Although much has changed since its founding, the school remains true to its origins.