Thorp Spring Christian College
Thorp Spring, Texas
Thorp Spring is located in Hood County, TX, 40 miles southwest of Fort Worth. From a small town in the early part of the 20th century, Thorp Springs now boasts of a population of 184. A small school with a short history, Thorp Spring Christian remains a presence. I was able to purchase a 1924 yearbook, the Spring Board, on e-bay. Now Catherine Williams Hiesiger has posted materials from an even older 1915 yearbook on Texas Escapes.
Thorp Spring Christian College was chartered in 1910. At that time it acquired the campus of Add-Ran Christian College, a forerunner of Texas Christian University. By terms of the charter, all of the Thorp Springs Christian College trustees had to be members of the Church of Christ, following New Testament teachings. Faculty members were also expected to be members of that denomination. Thorp Spring Christian College opened in the fall of 1910 with 150 students. Soon after, it became an accredited junior college. Its high mark came in 1916 when the enrollment reached 300. But as roads and transportation improved, the school began to lose students to larger schools. And as Thorp Spring had a population of only 400, the college too began to seek a larger town. Finally, in 1928, the school moved to Terrell, taking over a country club there. After a year, it closed, and despite a building project in Terrell, the school never reopened.
The 1924 Spring Board shows a student body of 134—68 in the junior college, 56 in the academy, and 10 ministerial students—taught by a faculty of 17. In some cases students and staff were interchangeable parts. Three members of the student body were also members of the faculty; another served as secretary to the president, and a third coached the football team. Most students were members of one of the two big literary societies—Philo-Athenaeum (called Athies) and Demosthenean (called Demons). These societies sponsored drama productions, debates, social events, and even intersociety sports. Each society had a camp house in the school park. School-sponsored activities included debate, yearbook, and the student newspaper. The school sponsored a lyceum, a revivial, picnics, an operetta, and special outings to Dallas or to the Hood County Fair. The relationship between the college and the town apparently was very close, so there was community support for student activities.
Bricks and Mortar
The old Add-Ran campus contained three main buildings—the Administration Building, and two dormitories—Perrin Hall and Girls’ Home. The Administration Building was a two-story stone building with eight pillars. It contained the auditorium.
Little remains of the Thorp Spring Christian College campus. Beside the the frame of one building are commemorative stones that mark the establishment of Add-Ran Christian College in 1873.
(Above) Administration Building (Loose photo tucked in the 1924 Spring Board)
Team name: Squirrels
Thorp Spring Christian College seems not to have had a gymnasium. However, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported in 1920 that the school was part of a four-school basketball conference with John Tarleton (now Tarleton State), Decatur Baptist (now Dallas Baptist) and Grubb Vocational (now Texas-Arlington). The 1924 yearbook show teams in football and baseball. Tennis was a major intersociety sport, and the school boasted that one of its players had been the Texas Junior College Champion in 1922. The “Athletics” section of Spring Board includes swimming at Stroud’s Creek as a major sporting pastime for the entire student body.
Intercollegiate sports were limited at Thorp Spring Christian College. The football team played two games in the fall, and the baseball team played six games in the spring. However, in Smugmug.com, photographer Larry Adkins noted that his parents had met in 1924 at the college, and that his father had received a football scholarship.
(Above) The 1923 Thorp Spring Christian football team. Not surprisingly, some of the players are high school juniors and seniors. This team lost to Weatherford Junior College 28-0 and to McMurry 25-0. The president of the Senior class is the team’s coach. (Spring Board)