The Daily Ardmoreite carried news and ads for Hargrove College in almost every edition.
The Methodist Episcopal Church, South “wanted to give young people of this county [Carter County, OK] higher education under Christian influence at minimal cost.” Hargrove College, named for Bishop Robert Hargrove, opened at Ardmore in November 1895 and was chartered in 1896. It was described as “not a college” but an “ideal school.” School structure consisted of a primary division, an intermediate division, and an academic or high school division. A few students did college-level work, but “the first regular college freshman class the school has had” did not come until 1912.
Hargrove College received a contract to educate children of the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations.
The academic division advertised courses in history, Latin, Greek and modern languages, higher mathematics, English, sciences, and philosophy—leading to A.B. and M.E.L. degrees. In 1901 Hargrove offered military science and tactics, commercial coursework, and art classes. Domestic science and manual training were added in 1911.
1912 ad from the Ardmoreite. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn85042303/1912-06-20/
Published enrollment figures fluctuated. From fewer than 100 students in 1895, enrollment reached 365 in 1901. Graduation numbers—when given--were low, and these apparently were high school graduates. One student received an M.E.L degree in 1905 and two in 1906.
“Hargrove Notes” in The Daily Ardmoreite show a vibrant campus. There were two literary societies, a dramatic association, and a college orchestra. The school year was filled with recitals, plays, and entertainments provided by elocution and music students. Each commencement featured programs provided by student groups from all levels and departments. In 1904 Hargrove students held a formal debate with Synodical College and with Indianola College in 1905. At least once each year there was an all-school picnic held off- campus. A revival service in 1912 led to several conversions.
The fire and the cost of rebuilding the campus paced a severe strain on school finances. With only 85 students enrolled in1913, trustees closed the school.
Bricks and Mortar
The original Hargrove College campus was a six-acre block on D Street between 9th and 10th Avenues, location of today’s Selvidge Park. The first building was a three-story brick structure with stone trim, measuring 60 x 40 feet. In addition to six large rooms for classes, it housed the female boarding students. In 1898 the college added a larger four-story brick building measuring 51 by 71 feet. This addition contained ten recitation rooms and 19 more living rooms for the president and female students. The ground floor contained a 400-seat auditorium. This building was totally destroyed by fire on October 2, 1907.
The college and the city immediately began fundraising for a new building. The new site was a 24-acre lot, one mile north of the city. The new administration/classroom building was three story brick, equipped with electric lights and running water. There were new two-story brick dormitories for both boys and girls. After a hiatus of almost two years, Hargrove College opened on the new campus on October 19, 1909.
In February 1914 the campus was purchased for the Bloomfield Academy, an Indian girls’ school. Main Building burned in 1957.
(Left) A postcard view of the D Street building. Image from Pinterest.
Relatively few references to sports appear in the Daily Ardmoreite; the first was an 11-0 football loss to Ardmore High School in 1903. Three years later President Gross banned the team from games against other schools.
With the move to a new campus, football resumed in 1911. Between high school games against Kingston and Madill, Hargrove made an attempt to step up to college-level opposition, losing to Southwestern State College at Durant 54-0. The following season Hargrove enjoyed more success defeating Murray State Agricultural College 14-10. But after a home game lost $20, President Martin warned Ardmore fans that unless attendance increased, there would be no more home games.