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Samuel Huston College

Austin, Texas



The Handbook of Texas Online has a short history of Samuel Huston College.  Four feature-length articles appeared in The Colored American (1901), The Houston Daily Post (1904), The Citizen (1909) and The Dallas Morning News (1948).  The ad (right) is from the 1920 Austin City Directory

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Reverend George W. Richardson began a school for Blacks in the basement of the St. Paul Methodist Episcopal Church in Dallas in 1876.  Two years later the school was adopted by the West Texas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, moved to Austin, and named Andrews Normal School.  But it was not until 1900 that the school achieved permanence under new president Reuben S. Lovinggood.   That year it was renamed Samuel Huston College for an Iowa farmer who gave $9,000.  A report from President Lovinggood in 1904 showed that S.H.C. offered preparatory, college normal, and music programs. In addition, it offered training in housekeeping, sewing, and cooking for girls and printing and agriculture for boys. As a Christian school, it had classes in Bible and missionary work.  From an initial 60 students, enrollment reached 519 by 1909 and 700 by 1948.  At that point S.H.C. offered both B.A and B.S. degrees with 14 courses of study. Students came from New York, Massachusetts and California as well as Texas.


Samuel Huston College became a power in music with the 32-voice a cappella choir that performed often in white churches and made a goodwill tour of Mexico in 1947. There was also a college orchestra and the Collegians, a performing band.  In the 1940’s the Samuel Huston College Artists Series was developed, bringing to Austin such artists as Duke Ellington.

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Class in domestic economy at Samuel Huston College.  Image from Era of Progress and Promise

The school was also active in drama and debate, participating in a Negro Drama tournament.


The Dallas Morning News notes six chapters of national Greek-letter fraternities and sororities on campus.


But Samuel Huston College struggled financially, and in 1952 merged with neighboring Tillotson College, sponsored by the Christian Church.  Today Huston-Tillotson University has an enrollment of more than 1,100 with graduate programs in educational leadership.

Bricks and mortar

The Samuel Huston campus began with six acres of land (later increased to fifteen) located five blocks from the state capitol in Austin.  What became Burrowes Hall, named for Edward T. Burrowes of Maine, was begun around 1883.  When funds ran out, only the basement had been completed, and it was not until 1898 that funds were sufficient to complete the building. Still, when classes opened in 1900, only six recitation rooms and two dormitory rooms were completed.  Since there was no furniture of any kind, students did a house-to-house canvass of the city to acquire the furniture necessary for the class and boarding components to operate.  The three story brick structure had a mansard roof, steam heat, and electric lights.


The Eliza Dee Industrial Home for girls opened in 1904 across the street from the campus.  In addition to teaching domestic skills and developing Christian character, it housed fourteen (probably as many as 20-25) girls.


After the merger, all S.H.C. activity moved to the Tillotson campus.  All buildings were razed by 1965, and the campus was sold.  

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Burrowes Hall. Image from Methodist Adventures in Negro Education


            Team name: Dragons


College Football Data Warehouse shows a football game with Prairie View A&M in 1909; The Dallas Express showed baseball games with the professional Austin Reds and Austin Senators of the Black Texas League.  


In 1921 Samuel Huston was one of the six Texas H.B.C.U.’s—along with Prairie View, Wiley, Bishop, Paul Quinn and Texas College to form what is today the Southwestern Athletic Conference.  Soon these were joined by Langston (OK), Arkansas A.M.&N., Southern (LA) and Xavier (LA).  This conference provided scheduling for Samuel Huston basketball, baseball and track teams—as well as football.   Baseball star Jackie Robinson coached the basketball team during the 1944-45 season.


The 1926 football Dragons were conference champions with a 6-0 record, outscoring opponents 197-2.  But generally teams enjoyed little success in football.

Note: Images are used in accordance with their “terms of use” as I understand those terms.  Recopying or republishing these images may be restricted or forbidden.

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