Alabama Presbyterian College for Men
Little remains of Alabama Presbyterian College. I was able to read Carrie Sellers’ 1946 master's thesis on the college, obtained from the University of Alabama. Postcard photos of the main building are available online. There are also a few newspaper articles about the school, along with a dim photo of the 1910 football team.
The Presbyterian Synod of Alabama began planning the establishment of a college as early as 1888. Classes began in rented buildings in Anniston on October 3, 1905, for 35 students and 3 professors. The college building was completed on March 20, 1906, allowing the enrollment to increase to 60 the following year.
Alabama Presbyterian College was planned as Christian but non-sectarian. Its aim was to give “broad, pure learning.” The founders of the school believed that specialists and technicians were dangerous unless their work was grounded in a “broad, liberal college course.” They feared the specialist who had become a “soulless machine” whose training had caused him to forget that he was “first of all, a man.” Therefore, all APC students were required to take a course in Bible each semester and attend church services each Sunday.
Initially students entering APC were tested for proficiency; but ultimately, those from accredited high schools were admitted without examination. APC included a preparatory school for students who lacked sufficient proficiency or who were from unaccredited high schools. The college offered both the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. The Classical Course leading to the B.A. included three years of English, a year of philosophy, and two years each of Latin, Greek, and history. The Scientific Course included three years each of math, chemistry, and botany; and two years each of English, French and German.
Enrollment at Alabama Presbyterian College was never robust. Numbers compiled by Carrie Sellers show a high of 86 students during the third year, with yearly averages in the 70’s. Thirty-seven students received degrees from APC during its 13 years of existence. With America’s involvement in World War I, enrollment fell dramatically. In 1917, the college allowed female students. (One female had previously received a degree in 1916). However, in the 1917-18 school year, total enrollment fell to 14.
As with many small church-supported schools, APC was inadequately funded. It had incurred debts for buildings and operating expenses and had fallen behind on salaries. Moreover, APC was never able to build up an endowment to keep the school going in hard times. In May of 1918, trustees made the decision to cease operations as a college.
Bricks and Mortar
The main building of Alabama Presbyterian College was completed in 1906. Atop Tyler Hill, and surrounded by a grove of trees, the three-story building was made of grey pressed bricks trimmed in stone. Measuring 160 feet by 110 feet, it contained 5 classrooms, 2 offices, 2 society halls, a dining hall, a reception room, and 47 dormitory rooms for students and faculty. It featured electric lights, steam heat and “mountain-spring water.” A building for preparatory students was added in 1913. When the college closed, the school was re-opened as Alabama Military Institute, a preparatory school. In 1945, the building was sold to the city of Anniston and used as an elementary school until 1949, when it was razed.
Team name: Predestinarians (Preds)
Alabama Presbyterian played football throughout its existence as a college. Having a very small enrollment, APC played both colleges and high schools. The most consistent opponent was neighboring Alabama Normal School, now Jacksonville State University. Another was Howard College—now Samford University. The regional agricultural high schools at Albertville and Sylacauga also were frequent opponents. However, in both 1909 and 1911, the Preds traveled to Athens to play the University of Georgia, losing 51-0 and 108-0.
Brooklyn Dodger pitcher Frank Allen (right) was hired as football coach at APC in 1913.
Image from the Library of Congress. http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/ggbain.11992/
(Above) Alabama Presbyterian College (Our Presbyterian Educational Institutions)