Seven Points, Westminster, and Tehuacana, Texas
The Dallas Morning News covered many events at Westminster College. Numerous photo essays about the town and college are available on the Internet. Don Brownlee provided an image from the Wigwam, the school's yearbook.
What became Westminster College opened at Seven Points, Texas in 1895. It was originally chartered by the Methodist Protestant Church for the preparation of ministers. By 1902, it had outgrown its facilities there and moved to buildings at Tehuacana, recently vacated by Trinity College.
Westminster offered A.B. and B.L. degrees with programs in music, elocution, stenography and Bible. A 1918 ad in the Dallas Morning News shows a junior college (one of the first in the state in 1916) with standardized courses in 11 subjects, taught by “a faculty of experts.” Classes were taught in a “strong religious and moral environment.”
Westminster was never a large school. It opened at Tehuacana with 125 students. By 1926 it planned for 200 students but fell far short of this number. The graduation of 1903 had 6 students—three degree students, two with diplomas in music and one in elocution. These figures reached 11 in 1909 and 27 by 1923.
Early newspaper coverage emphasized the School of Music which provided an annual concert with its choir, glee club, and concert band. By 1906 the Morning News reported that the school had performed The Mikado. Westminster had Browning, Aurora and Emerson Literary societies to assist in the performances. In state competition, teams from Westminster won the oratorical contest in 1927 and also competed in one-act plays. The school yearbook was called the Wigwam.
In 1942, Southwestern University acquired Westminster in its attempt to create a university of small regional colleges. This arrangement lasted until 1950, when Westminster College closed due to low enrollment.
Bricks and Mortar
The 1918 ad notes that Tehuacana, located 85 miles SE of Dallas is “proverbially healthful.” The photo-op for everyone visiting Tehuacana (population 300) is Texas Hall, home to three different colleges. The three-story central section was designed by the architect Joseph Schuster and built in 1871. Dallas architect James F. Flanders designed the South Wing (added in 1886) and the North Wing (added in 1892-94). According to the Morning News, these were built of native limestone,“on the ground ready to be placed in position.” By 1900 Flanders had added a fourth floor with a mansard roof and a bell tower.
The Westminster Junior College and Bible Institute occupied the campus from 1953 to 1971. After that, Texas Hall became derelict. At some point the bell tower blew down and now sits behind the structure. The building was placed on the National Register in 1978. In 1991 the Trinity Institute, a non-profit organization, began work to restore the building. Texas Hall is now part of a retreat center, providing meeting rooms. The large auditorium, occupying the second floor of the North Wing, has been used for concerts and weddings. Visitors report that the thick walls of the building make it comfortable, even on the hottest days.
The campus was the location for the horror movie Don’t Look in the Basement (1973) and its sequel Don’t Look in the Basement 2 (2015).
Team name: Wildcats
The Morning News reports a baseball game with Mexia High School in 1911, a football game—also with Mexia High School-- in 1919, a basketball game with College of Marshall in 1922, and a tennis match with North Texas Agricultural College in 1932. The football schedule for 1925 included Sam Houston Teachers College, Hillsboro JC, Texas Military College, Meridian JC, Wesley College, Lon Morris College, Rusk Baptist College, and the Baylor Cubs. The teams of 1924 and 1936 contended for conference championships.
In 1932 Westminster became a member of the newly organized Texas Junior College Athletic Association.
Members of the Emerson Literary Society. Image from the 1925 Wigwam, courtesy of Don Brownlee.
Yancey, Michael D. [Westminster College Main Building, (Southwest oblique)], photograph,June 1977; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth667955/: accessed February 9, 2017),University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Commission.