Outside Looking In

Different time, different place

Nathan J Bonassin
2 min readJul 11, 2022


Charles Bender High School — Photo Credit Humble ISD

I’ve always appreciated when buildings are repurposed as something new instead of being torn down. I was a history minor in college, so maybe it’s the history nerd in me that likes to see old buildings get a new lease on life. Travel around any town in Europe and you’ll see this practice everywhere.

Sometime after high school, I needed to get my hands on my transcripts, which are a horror story for another day. The high school didn’t have them on file of course, so I had to go down to the central administration building to make my request. That’s when things got interesting.

The administration building was housed in an old high school that dates back to the 1930s. Colloquially known as Old Humble High School, this beautiful building was originally known as the Charles Bender High School. Since it had been occupied continuously since it opened, there hadn’t been much time to renovate or remodel over the years. They had just recently begun to update the building shortly before I had to make my visit.

What was interesting about the remodeling project was that they had chosen to do it in phases. Not phases as in front to back or wing to wing or exterior to interior, but they had chosen to do this particular remodel in a unique way. First, they did the hallways and then the classrooms and office spaces.

The hallways had been completed and only some of the classrooms had been touched. For the rooms that hadn’t been touched, it was like a window back through time.

The high school had moved out in 1965, followed by the middle school until 1972. Fifty years later, there hadn’t been a lot of time on the books to get the old building updated. So walking through these halls and looking through open doors was like getting a window into a classroom from sixty years ago. Most of the rooms still had the old wooden desks and chairs complete with paneled walls. There wasn’t a plastic classroom chair in sight.

Today, the old building has been given a new lease on life. The city purchased it from the school district and gave it a facelift, restoring the exterior to its original 1930s appearance. Then the interior work began. New offices and meeting spaces were added along with a performing arts space to give the building a new beginning as the Charles Bender Performing Arts Center. Now, for years to come many people will get to use this space as it is dedicated to the arts.



Nathan J Bonassin

A writer writing about writing, food, and life.