Salado College

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Salado College Archeological Site
Salado college ruins 2008.jpg
Ruins of Salado College 2008
Salado College is located in Texas
Salado College
Location Corner of South Main Street and College Hill Drive
Salado, Texas, USA
Coordinates 30°56′28″N 97°32′13″W / 30.94114°N 97.53699°W / 30.94114; -97.53699Coordinates: 30°56′28″N 97°32′13″W / 30.94114°N 97.53699°W / 30.94114; -97.53699
Built 1860
Governing body The Robertson Colony Salado College Foundation, P.O. Box 143, Salado, Texas 76571
NRHP Reference # 85000403 [1]
Added to NRHP March 1, 1985

Salado College was a college in Salado, Texas, United States that operated from 1860 until 1885.

Salado College began on October 8, 1859 at a tent meeting at Salado Springs of prominent men from throughout Bell County with a desire to create a high class school in the county. They organized the Salado College Joint Stock Company and raised $5,000 for the college through sale of stock. The board of the company had seven trustees. Colonel Elijah Sterling Clack Robertson n was elected President of the board.

Robertson donated 100 acres (0.40 km2) of land to the college on October 16, 1859. Ninety acres of the land were subdivided and sold to families moving to the area. The proceeds provided money for building. Salado College was the first college in the state to operate without church or state funds.

On February 8, 1860, Salado College was incorporated by the Texas Legislature for twenty years to grant diplomas, confer degrees and perform other corporate functions. Unlike most colleges of the era in the United States, Salado College was to be coeducational. The college erected a temporary wooden building, and the first classes began on February 20, 1860. Seventy-five students were enrolled the first term. Students that did not live in the area boarded with local families as the college had no dormitory. Teachers temporarily lived in tents.

On July 4, 1860, area Masons laid the cornerstone for the college's permanent two-story limestone building. The ceremony attracted visitors from as far away as Austin and Waco. The college sold many more lots as families moved to Salado to get their children a good education. Attendance increased to 124 students the next year. Attendance at the school some times topped 300 students with an average of 250 from 1866 to 1872.[2]

In 1871, the college added a two-story annex. However, enrollment dropped sharply because of the Panic of 1873. The number of students also decreased as more state-funded colleges were established. Finally, Colonel Robertson had to step in and buy the college to keep it from being foreclosed on. Colonel Robertson died in 1879.

The state charter expired on February 8, 1880. A new corporation formed and purchased the land on which the college building stood from Robertson's heirs. The school operated as Salado College until 1885. However, the college was not rechartered with the state, so it granted no degrees between 1880 and 1884. In 1885, Salado College ceased operating as a college. The college had operated for its entire existence without endowments, sustained solely by tuition.

The property was turned over to trustees of the local public school and operated as Thomas Arnold High School, a private academy, from 1890 until 1913 and was operated as Salado College again until 1918.

A fire destroyed the building in 1901 and another in 1902. The building was rebuilt each time. A fire in 1924 destroyed the building again. This time the citizens could not afford to rebuild. Oral history recounts the nature of the fires as "suspicious," but the basis for the claim of arson is lost in local legend.[3]

The site was subjected to an archaeological survey. The ruins of the building were stabilized, and the site is now open to the public.

In 2011 the site came under the governance of the Robertson Colony Salado College Foundation under the direction of President Doris Kemp. An effort has been launched to beautify the site, make improvements and maintain the Salado College Memorial Public Park. Contributions from the community and friends of the college support the endeavor. The Foundation can be reached at P.O. Box 143, Salado, Texas 76571.

Beautification effort[edit]

The beautification effort was launched into full swing when community volunteers joined 24 soldier volunteers from the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. The clean-up day was held August 27, 2011 in readiness for the Liz Carpenter marker dedication held at 10 a.m. September 3, 2011 on the site.

Notable alumni[edit]