“Hall-Moody Institute” (2009) by Pamela R. Davis is an illustrated and well-documented history of the school. University of Tennessee-Martin includes two Hall-Moody yearbooks and a school history in its archives. The Baptist and Reflector carried news from the school and is the source of the 1903 ad (right).
Hall-Moody Institute, named for “two eminent ministers of the denomination,” was founded by the Beulah Baptist Association in 1900. Classes began that fall for 139 students, taught by five faculty members. Its goal was to provide a “preparation for collegiate study.” But the programs quickly became all-encompassing. Ads in 1904 show “three distinct and completely organized colleges”—college proper, teachers’ college, and commercial college.” Included in the “college proper” were departments of music and expression. In addition, Hall-Moody maintained a full elementary school (later named a demonstration school for the teachers’ college) and a school of theology.
The 1921 Last Call yearbook shows only twelve students doing collegiate work; high school students in the preparatory program numbered 101; ninety-nine students were listed in the elementary program. In addition there were 63 commercial students, 90 music students and 17 expression students. The 1927 Last Leaf yearbook shows 165 junior college students, 75 high school students, 83 demonstration students and 79 music students.
Hall-Moody was proudly co-educational. In 1916 multiple literary societies were reorganized into two large ones--Cliosophic and Excelsior, each with around 70 members. In the 1920 other social/academic organizations were organized including the Young Women’s Association, the Hall-Moody Cheerers, and the J.B. Hall Society for Religious Inquiry.
Until 1919 Hall-Moody was essentially a preparatory school. Still, the Last Leaf shows that it had awarded 117 B.A. degrees prior to becoming officially a junior college.
Financial difficulties led to a merger with Union University in Jackson at the end of the 1926-27 school year.
Five 1921 commercial department graduates. Image from the Last Call.
Bricks and Mortar
The cornerstones for Main Building were laid on October 2, 1900 on land provided by Ada Gardner Brooks at the edge of Martin. Completed for the start of school in 1901, the two-story brick structure contained 12 rooms, serving as both classrooms and administration. One room was used as a chapel. In 1903 wood frame dormitory buildings for boys and girls were added. As enrollment increased, the school added a one-story brick science building in 1908. After World War I the frame dormitories were replaced by two-story brick structures—Ellis Home for Girls (1919) and Lovelace Home for Boys (1921). A frame gymnasium seating 800 was added in 1923.
Main Building was damaged by a storm in 1912, so that the steeple had to be removed and the façade restructured. Additional classrooms were added at the time. A sketch of the building by University of Tennessee noted that when it was turned over to the state in 1927, it measured 132 feet by 117 feet, containing 14 classrooms, a library, three offices, and a 450-seat auditorium.
Main Building before the 1912 storm. Image from CardCow.
Team name: Sky Pilots
School colors: Crimson and Gold
Until 1923 Hall-Moody did not sponsor intercollegiate athletics, though intramural competition was strong. The Last Call shows that the two literary societies each had a men’s team in volleyball, basketball, baseball and tennis; each had a women’s team in volleyball, basketball, and tennis
In 1923 Hall-Moody first fielded a football team, playing two games against high school competition. The first college game came a year later against Union University. By 1925 Hall-Moody was playing a full collegiate schedule. Their difficulty was that as a small two-year school, they played a schedule made up of four-year schools, some of which—Memphis State, Murray State, Southern Illinois and Tennessee Tech—are Division-I schools today. The 1926 team—the school’s last—compiled a 3-5-1 record.
With a new gymnasium, men’s basketball began in 1923. The 1926-27 Ski Pilots compiled a 14-1 record, while a women’s team won one of six games. There was also a baseball team and a tennis club.