Saturday, April 13, 2013

This Week in Texas Methodist History April 14

Methodist Protestants Move Westminster College to Tehuacana

When Presbyterians moved Trinity College from Tehuacana to Waxahachie in 1902, Methodist Protestants decided to relocate Westminster College from Collin County to the fine facility made vacant by the move. 

Methodist Protestants established a  college seventeen miles northeast of McKinney and obtained a charter in 1897.  They named their college Westminster and stressed pre-ministerial education.  Westminster consisted of a two story frame building and two instructors.  President James Lawlis taught Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Bible, Ancient History and Ancient Geography.  The other instructor, Addie Johnsey, taught music and “any other subject the students needed.”   Although it had been founded primarily for pre-ministerial education, only three such students enrolled for the first session. 

In spite of its modest start, Westminster College prospered.  In 1898 enrollment justified a staff of 6 instructors.  Course offerings expanded to include mathematics, French, and art.  The increased enrollment strained the facilities so when Trinity relocated from Tehuacana (near Mexia) to Waxahachie, the Westminster trustees accepted the offer of the Presbyterians to take over the fine limestone building that had been constructed in 1872. 

Westminster College operated preparatory and four year college programs until 1916 when Westminster became a junior college.  To overcome its small town setting, it operated a fleet of school buses to bring students to the campus.  Even during the depression Westminster was able to build a gymnasium, field house, president’s home, and remodel dormitories and faculty residences. 
The creation of the Methodist Church in 1939 by the union of the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and the Methodist Protestant Church meant Westminster’s potential constituency increased dramatically, but the 1940s brought hard times. One solution was to become a junior division of Southwestern University.  That relationship lasted only until 1950 when Southwestern trustees closed Westminster. 

The Congregational Methodist Church then obtained the property and operated a school in Tehuacana from 1953 to 1972.   


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