History of College Hill Schools, Texarkana Arkansas


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College Hill Ward School:  This is a picture of the Old College Hill School as it looked after a Building was built on the land that was deeded in 1889 to the Southwestern Arkansas College.  The Baptist took it over for a short time but could not make a go of it.  In 1892 it was bought by George L. Bryant and was used as a private college for awhile.  Because of debt against the property it was sold in 1895 to one of the original partners, then sold again the next year to the Arkansas School District no. 8.  In 1910 this school was consolidated with the Texarkana, Arkansas Schools and in 1925 additional rooms and improvements were made to this building. 

It is of unusual historical interest to know that the establishment of a college gave the community its name. In the beginning it was a private institution, which attracted pupils from many plantations in this part of the state. Many of Texarkana’s leading citizens received the foundation of their education there and its history is a story of the birth of a city as well as the progress of public education. 

In 1880 a private school was established on the hill across from the Cotton Belt Hospital. This school was supported by, J. F. Kirby, E. S. Sanderson, Q. F. Ferguson and H. N. McClain. T. C. Anderson had charge of the school with the following faculty; principal, J. F. Shaw a Baptist Minister; H. W. Butcher a teacher of mathematics, who was a graduate of the University of Virginia; A Mr. Hutsell a teacher of English; and Miss Sally Reed as an assistant teacher. This school ran for a number of years until some one advanced the idea of a college. 

In 1882, J. F. and John Kirby gave ten beautiful acres to be used as a school site, which became a part of Kirby’s College Addition. No building was erected or any provision made for the school so in 1889 this property was deeded to the Southwestern Arkansas College. The following men were trustees; E. S. Sanderson, L. J. Joiner, J. F. Kirby, J. E. Burton, C. Wilkerson, W. R. Kelly, C. E. Bramble, L. C. DeMorse, F. A. Byers, J. S. Smith, C. C. Burke, R. W. Reed, O. P. Taylor, W. L. Whitaker, A. L. Ghio, J. H. Graughan, V. T. Hannon, D. E. Williams, O. D. Scott and B. O. Estes. 

A two story, six room brick building was constructed with two stairways leading from the outside to the second story. Another winding stairway led to the belfry where the huge bell hung. To the left of this building was an old well, which was used as late as 1925. Several of the teachers from the original school came over and joined this faculty with Homer Cook as President. The curriculum consisted of the same things as the schools of today offer such as music, both vocal and instrumental, business training as well as the academic subjects. One of the most interesting activities was a literacy society. 

The Baptists then took it over for a short time but could not make a go of it, so in 1892 it was sold to George L. Bryant, who ran it as a private college with T. E. Webber as President. Hiram and Allen, surviving partners of H. J. Allen Brothers, sued the Southwestern Arkansas College for the debt encumbered by George Bryant. They recovered judgment so then Sheriff James T. Dillard sold the property to H. J. Allen on April 6th, 1895, for the sum of twenty-six hundred dollars. The Miller County courthouse records show that the following year it was sold to School District No.8 for thirty-five hundred dollars. The only surviving member of the school board at this time is G. E. Vinson, city clerk of Texarkana, Arkansas. Flippin Cook, a lawyer of Texarkana was one of the early principals of the school. 

In 1910 the school was consolidated with the Texarkana Arkansas Schools. An auditorium and three classrooms were added to the original building in 1925. Other improvements had been added to the building such as water and sewage several years earlier. After the consolidation with other smaller schools and the increased population of the College Hill Community, it was necessary to enlarge the building. The following additions were; four classrooms with indirect lighting; a library with new furnishings and the wall space fitted with shelves for the 1200 volumes. The rest rooms, one for the boys and one for the girls, have tiled floors and modern plumbing. Very little landscaping had been done to add to the natural beauty of the campus.           

Submitted by Betty Meador Sharp

Sources:  Texarkana Gazette dated May 12, 1935