Massey Business College
What we know of the Houston branch of Massey Business College comes from ads and news items found in the Houston Post and Houston Chronicle. Massey’s bookkeeping textbook is available on Internet Archive. Images of Richard W. Massey and of the Massey logo are from that textbook.
In 1887 Richard W. Massey opened a business college in Birmingham, Alabama. His chain of business colleges reached Houston in 1898 when he purchased the Houston Shorthand and Typewriting School. The Houston branch opened on October 2 for 100 students with three teachers.
Originally the school had three divisions. The shorthand division also included typing; the commercial division had students conducted “actual” business, using the U.S. mail to interact with their counterparts in other Massey branches; the English division provided the skills considered necessary for “the practical affairs of life.” The English ads directing parents to “place their sons or daughter with us” suggest that these classes were for high school students. Massey himself wrote the textbooks used for teaching bookkeeping, letter writing, spelling and commercial law.
Enrollment reached 259 by 1921. Most students were local, but as an inducement for out-of-area students, advertisements noted available scholarships, free travel to Houston, rear round classes, and claims that the school could hardly keep up with the demand for its graduates.
Richard W. Massey
Student life at Massey Business College was more than learning Gregg shorthand. Newspaper items show entertainments, picnics, parties, dances, receptions, day outings, and a Miss Massey Business College contest. At one school assembly, a Remington-Rand employee demonstrated advanced typing skills. Female students had a Massey Club, a Philomathean Society and a Beta Sigma Phi sorority. After World War II, the college offered classes in “beauty, charm, and poise.”
During World War II, Texas A&M used the Massey facilities to provide classes for federal workers. In 1947 Richard W. Massey sold the college, though some version of the school continued for a time under the Massey name. College History Garden lists the school as defunct.
Bricks and Mortar
Massey Business College occupied the entire fourth floor of the Mason Block, at the corner of Main and Rusk Streets. School ads note the main room was 50 x 75 feet, with the bank at one end. The bank’s oak counter of 16th century design had been shipped from Georgia. The shorthand and typing rooms were across the hall. Since there were no other four-story buildings around, the rooms had good light and air.
In 1902 the school moved to a new building constructed especially for the school with “plenty of room, light, and ventilation.” Called the Massey Building, it was located at 1106-1110 Rusk. The two-story concrete structure burned on May 2, 1924. Rebuilt, it was used until 1929, when the school moved to larger quarters.
The second floor of the Rodgers Building at 1217 Capitol, was home to Massey Business College, at least until the 1950’s. The Rodgers Building had 15,000 feet of floor space and advertised “large, light, cool rooms with a southeastern exposure.”
Sanborn fire Insurance map of the Massey Building on Rusk Street. (right) Image from the Library of Congress. It shows that the building
actually had a brick veneer over a wood frame, so it would not have been fireproof.
School Colors: Royal Purple and Gold
On November 28, 1901 the Houston Post reported that a team “selected from the students at Massey Business College” would play the team from St. Edward’s College at League Park in Houston on Thanksgiving afternoon. St. Edward’s won that game 27-0. Although the Post reported that the Massey team was “not new to the game,” I could find no record of games before or after that reference.
Beginning in 1908 and continuing to 1945 Massey Business College sponsored a baseball team. Newspapers reported games against Houston High School and St. Thomas College, but most games were in one of the Houston city leagues.
In 1928 M.B.C. had a basketball team playing in the Y.M.C.A. league. In 1935-36 the school also had a women’s basketball team in the city league.