(Prep) 1928-1935 and 1952-Present (College 1929-1931)
William Henry Brophy College: Early History 1928-1935 by Father Francis A. Moore, S. J. tells the history of the college through newspaper clippings and college archival material. The image of Ellen Brophy (right) is taken from Though Far Away by her son Frank Cullen Brophy.
In the fall of 1929 Brophy College added a fifth year, creating the college of Liberal Arts. This drew fifteen students. In 1930, pre-law and pre-medical courses were added to the junior college curriculum, and the number of students doing collegiate work increased to 28. But plans to create a bachelor’s degree program were never realized. In the spring of 1931, all collegiate-level work ceased.
But despite the generosity of Mrs. Brophy, the college began to experience financial problems. According to Father Moore, the first president was totally naïve in financial matters. As a result the school was unable to achieve accreditation. The library contained only 2,500 books—most donated—and these were often inaccessible by students. The Great Depression cut total enrollment so that by 1935 the school had only 87 students (down from a high of 150) and was forced to close.
Brophy College Preparatory School reopened in 1952 and remains a fully accredited Phoenix area school of 1,200 students, still operated by the Jesuits.
Brophy College was begun by priests of the Society of Jesus, financed by a $250,000 gift from Mrs. Ellen Brophy and named for her husband. Classes began for 58 boys on September 10, 1928. In its first year it was strictly a preparatory school. Each year the prescribed course of study consisted of Latin, English, a mathematics/science course, a history/civics course, and a religion course. After the first year, boys were allowed an elective—either another language or a commercial course. Debate and drama began that first year; an orchestra was added the second year.
Bricks and Mortar
Mrs. Brophy provided a 25-acre building site located four miles from the center of Phoenix. The cornerstone was laid on April 29, 1928. The three-building campus consisted of Recitation Hall, the classroom building; Faculty Hall, which also contained dormitory space for 35-40 students; and the chapel. In a style described as Spanish Mission, buildings were constructed of bricks covered with an off-yellow colored plaster.
Brophy Field for baseball, track, and football was dedicated April 4, 1929. While plans for a gymnasium waited, the Pintos played home basketball games at one end of the third floor of Recitation Hall. The floor was just over 55 feet wide—minus sideline space. Fifteen feet in front of each goal was a supporting truss for the roof. These were less than 13 feet from the floor, but shots could pass through the truss.
Xavier High School, an all-girls school, occupied the campus from 1943 until Brophy College returned in 1952. The Brophy College Chapel was placed on the National Register in 1993.
Brophy Chapel today. Image by Kabugenyo https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brophy_College_Preparatory#/media/File:Brophy_College_and_Chapel_(1).JPG
The 1930 varsity baseball team. Image, apparently from college archives, is taken from Father Moore's book to illustrate Brophy College students.
Team name: Pintos
School Colors: Green and White
Brophy College immediately began sports programs at the prep level in the 1928-29 school year. In the fall of 1929, Brophy determined to field a football team at the collegiate level, drawing 22 players from a college enrollment of 14.
Father Moore gives results that first year as one win, two scoreless draws and two losses. The win made national news because an inexperienced timekeeper stopped the clock at the end of each play, leading to a three-hour plus game. With eight minutes still left on the clock and darkness falling, Gila College, leading 13-6, refused to continue and were declared the loser by forfeit. One draw with Phoenix Indian School was played in 102 degree temperature. The 1930 team compiled a 5-2-1 record, with one win being 105-0 over Lehi Indian School.
Opponents tended to be Native American schools. In addition to Phoenix and Lehi, these included Sacaton and Ajo. The Pintos also lined up against freshmen teams from Tempe Normal, Flagstaff Normal and the University of Arizona.
The prep schedule of basketball, baseball, and track may not have involved the collegians.