Bryan Baptist Academy
The Handbook of Texas Online has a brief history of the school. The Bryan Daily Eagle covered many school activities--openings, recitals, commencements, and ball games. Both the ad (right) and the image of the new dormitory (below) are from the Eagle.
As the ad above shows, BBA emphasized the music program. One director, Edward Royce, came from Harvard, and musical programs were among the highlights of entertainment at Bryan. These featured both vocal and instrumental groups and “difficult” classical selections.
BBA students had two literary societies—Erisophian and Philomathesian—which combined to perform public orations and debates. They also performed one major dramatic event each year. The art program created a studio to display student works.
The above BBA ad states, “Strong Christian influences prevail.” In 1911 a student reported to the Eagle that “in its whole history there have not been more than half a dozen [students] to go away from this Christian school unsaved.”
But as transportation improved, students had more options for pursuing their education. The Handbook shows that Bryan Baptist Academy began to lose students to schools such as Texas A&M, forcing BBA to close in 1918.
Dr. George B. Butler, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Bryan with lay members of the congregation, chartered the Texas Women’s College, which opened in September of 1905. In 1909 the name was changed to Bryan Baptist Academy for Girls. In 1910 The Baptist General Convention of Texas accepted the school as part the Association of Baptist Schools. For the first time, BBA became co-educational.
Bryan Baptist Academy was a preparatory school. The Eagle shows an enrollment of 63 in the first year. The Handbook of Texas lists 1910 enrollment as 100, taught by a faculty of seven. By 1912 enrollment had grown to 125, taught by a faculty of eight. Handbook of Texas shows only 67 in 1917. BBA averaged around seven graduates each year. Eagle coverage shows that in both 1914 and 1915, graduation classes totaled nine students.
Bricks and Mortar
In the first decade of the twentieth century, Bryan, with a population of around 4,000, was home to three academies—in addition to the local high school. Texas A&M University was nearby. Texas Women’s College acquired property on the corner of East 26th Street and Washington Avenue and built a two-story brick building, containing dormitory rooms, classrooms, and offices.
When TWC became co-educational, a new thirty-room boys’ dormitory was added. In October, 1910 that dormitory burned to the ground. For the rest of the school year, the single building housed boys and girls--as well as faculty, administration and classes.
BBA immediately began raising funds to replace the boys’ dormitory. The new red brick structure was two floors over a concrete basement. The dining room, kitchen, boiler room and laundry room were located in the basement. The first floor contained the President’s office, the parlor, reception room and twelve student rooms. The top floor contained sixteen student rooms. The new facility became the girls’ dormitory.
After Bryan Baptist Academy closed, the two campus buildings were sold for multi-family dwellings.
According to Google maps, neither building remains.
The 1911 girls' dormitory building.
School colors: Black and Gold
In 1913 the trustees of Bryan Baptist Academy stated that it was their intent to have a male faculty member “well versed in athletics who will coach the boys in baseball, football and kindred sports.” But BBA had begun playing football in 1910 with a schedule of high school, academy, and independent teams. Bryan High School and Allen Academy were favorite opponents. In both 1912 and 1913, BBA traveled to Huntsville to play Sam Houston Normal, losing 25-0 and 19-6 to the college boys.
“Bryan Baptist Notes” in September 1911 thanked the faculty and trustees for the gymnasium “which is now being built.” The gymnasium allowed BBA to field both boys and girls basketball teams.