Billy W. Sills Center for Archives Settles Into Temporary Home
Fort Worth ISD’s Billy W. Sills Center for Archives is open for business at its new, temporary home and ready to serve the community with its expansive slice of Fort Worth ISD history.
The Sills Center, has moved to 100 N. University Drive in the FWISD Administration Building. Visitors have access to District information, such as the history of schools, individuals who have made an impact, yearbook collections and more from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. The staff is also available to assist visitors with their research needs and photo requests.
People needing to visit the center outside of its general operating hours may do so by calling 817-814-2040 to book an appointment. Visitors must check in at the FWISD Information Center before entering the Sills Center from the outside doors on the far south end of the Administration Building complex -- the former Transition Center space.
The Billy W. Sills Lecture Series is currently on hold, however, due to space restrictions.
The Sills Center houses a vast collection of materials and artifacts, such as band and cheerleader uniforms, a prom dress from 1958 and school banners. The original, hand-written minutes from the first school board meeting in 1882, and for about the next 40 years, are also preserved there. Among the documents are minutes documenting the hiring of the District’s first superintendent, Alexander Hogg, and notable FWISD educators including I.M. Terrell, R.L. Paschal and Lily B. Clayton.
The Sills Center is seeing more foot traffic since relocating to the Administration Building, said Lenna Hughes Recer, the center’s caretaker. People see something different and come in to check it out, she said.
“The huge advantage I see to being here is that we have a lot of passerby people that will see it and come in. People will see it and don’t know we exist,” Ms. Recer said. “That has always been a goal of mine to let the community know that we’re here.”
Many of the physical items are being stored until the Sills Center moves into his permanent location. The Center’s previous location was sold as part of a District-wide surplus property plan, and it was relocated to the Administration Building in July 2021. A new location is expected to open the fall of 2022.
At that point, the Sills Center will act as a both a museum and research center. The displays will include school histories and clothing, equipment used by teachers through the years, and desks and artifacts from a typical classroom in the 1930s,’40s and ’50s.
Late social studies teacher Billy Sills began collecting artifacts and other material about the FWISD and its history. In 1963, he was appointed the first full-time social studies consultant. With the help of the Fort Worth Council for the Social Studies and others, the archives continued to grow. The Board of Education honored him 1983 with the naming of the Billy W. Sills Center for Archives of the Fort Worth ISD.