So That’s Why That Avenue Is Called “College”

“Gimme an F, Gimme a W, Gimme a Huh?

It’s a tale of east and west. And when I say “east and west” I mean, of course, north and south.

Schools in Fort Worth—and the land they are located on—can have a complicated history. Take, for example, this school building and its block, bounded by College Avenue and Cannon, Henderson, and Dashwood streets. First the school was called “Central High” (1918), then “Paschal High” (1935), then “Green B. Trimble Technical High” (1955).

But wait! There’s more. Often we don’t stop to wonder how streets got their name. Take, for example, College Avenue, which stretches from Vickery Boulevard south to Felix Street but doesn’t come close to so much as a barber college. Ah, but for twenty-five years it did. Long before that block was occupied by a high school, the intersection of College Avenue and Cannon Street was the location of the ten-acre campus of  . . .

fwu 1885Texas Wesleyan College. No, not that Texas Wesleyan College—not the one on the East Side. This Texas Wesleyan College was founded by the northern Methodist Church in 1881. But in 1889 this TWC changed its name to . . .

“Fort Worth University,” as shown on this 1910 Sanborn map. (Cannon Avenue is named for one of the school’s benefactors, William H. Cannon.)

land title chamberlin 89 2In 1889 Humphrey Chamberlin, a Denver developer, announced for Fort Worth plans for what the Gazette called, hyperbolically, “the largest transaction in real estate ever recorded in Texas.” But Chamberlin did indeed have three grand plans: 1. to develop the area west of Fort Worth residentially as “Arlington Heights” and link it to Fort Worth with his Fort Worth and Arlington Heights Street Railway, 2. to build a grand hotel for Arlington Heights, and 3. to relocate Texas Wesleyan College, which had just been rechartered as “Fort Worth University,” from its near South Side location to a new campus in Arlington Heights.

Well, Chamberlin plans 1 and 2 eventually came about, even if the hotel, Ye Arlington Inn, burned in 1894. But plan 3 never came about, and Fort Worth University stayed right where it was.

university heights 93But the western part of Arlington Heights around Lake Como was platted as “University Heights” for the college that never came.

Henry Wellge’s bird’s-eye-view map shows FWU in 1891. In 1910 an attempt was made to merge Fort Worth University with Polytechnic College, which is the TWC you were thinking of. Polytechnic College had been founded on the east side of town in 1890 by the southern Methodist Church and would become Texas Woman’s College in 1914, Texas Wesleyan College in 1935, and Texas Wesleyan University in 1989.

fwuBut back to Fort Worth University. It was small but robust. College president Oscar L. Fisher advertised, “Increase your knowledge, your brain power, and thereby your capital by study in one of our schools. Fifty-one teachers, eight hundred students. Military school for boys. Homelike accommodations for girls. Expenses moderate.”

“Moderate,” indeed, by today’s standards. In 1903, tuition was less than $200. Room and board was $3.50 a week.

The FWU campus had four buildings: Dining Hall, Science Hall, University Hall, and Cadet Hall. The college offered such arts and sciences courses as modern languages, business, instrumental and vocal music, drawing and painting, elocution, mathematics, Latin and Greek, biology, chemistry, and astronomy. In 1890 the university added a cadet corps.

In fact, the university was set up to be potentially the only school a child would ever need, offering classes from kindergarten through postgraduate. Degrees included AB, BS, BLitt, DD, and PhD.

Outdoor activities included baseball, croquet, lawn tennis, and football.

An unidentified FWU team. (Photo from Barbara Love Logan.)

fwu 11-27-03 teleFor example, on November 26, 1903, in a battle that was both east versus west and north versus south, Fort Worth University beat Polytechnic College at home in football. Clip is from the November 27 Fort Worth Telegram.

The FWU yearbook was The Lasso. Each class had its own colors and yell. For example, the senior class colors were navy blue and gold. The senior class yell was:

Ring! Rah! Ru!
Do your do!
Varsity! Varsity?
Fort Worth U!

FWU PETEPostcard from Pete Charlton.

Postcard from Barbara Love Logan.

jps-94-medical-school-july-26-94-gaz

FWU opened a school of law in 1893 and a school of medicine in 1894. On July 27, 1894 the Fort Worth Gazette announced that FWU would open a medical college.

The medical college was originally located on the College Avenue campus but in 1896 moved to a building downtown at Commerce and 7th streets (pictured). (Photo from University of Texas at Arlington Library.)

The amphitheater of the college was located on the first floor. Photo is from the school’s 1898 yearbook. (Photo from University of Texas at Arlington Library.)

fwu 4-2-97 reg

On April 1, 1897 the medical school graduated its first class of students who had gone through the entire three-year medical course at FWU. That graduating class was a dozen students, including Daisy Emery Allen, who graduated second in her class and was the first woman to graduate from a Texas medical school. She later became the first female physician licensed in Texas. Clip is from the April 2, 1897 Fort Worth Register.

In 1903 tuition at the medical college, “including matriculation fee, dissecting ticket, chemical, and pathological laboratories,” was seventy-five dollars a year.

jps 1907 greater fort worth

In 1906 the medical college moved to a building at Calhoun and East 5th streets.

In 1914 the medical college began using City-County Hospital, which opened at East 4th and Jones streets.

Meanwhile back on College Avenue, in 1911, when the attempted merger of Fort Worth University (which, remember, had been the western TWC founded by the northern Methodists) and Polytechnic College (which, remember, would become the eastern TWC founded by the southern Methodists) failed, FWU said to heck with it and became part of Methodist University of Oklahoma. (Are you getting all this?) Fort Worth University closed. Another factor in the closing of FWU was the relocation of Texas Christian University from Waco to Fort Worth in 1910, presenting FWU with new competition for students. Upon closure of the FWU campus, the Star-Telegram reported, FWU trustees reflected on “a useful, honorable career of twenty-nine years.”

In a move that must have galled those trustees, with closure of Fort Worth University, the college’s medical school, which had been chartered separately, in 1911 became affiliated with the competition: TCU. But in 1918 the medical college became affiliated with Baylor University in Dallas.

Also in 1918 the Fort Worth school system built Central High School (now Trimble Technical High School) on the former site of Fort Worth University.

My head hurts.

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3 Responses to So That’s Why That Avenue Is Called “College”

  1. Michael Lavender says:

    All the shuffling is around the time the Flexner Report was published. Flexner’s recommendations included requiring students to have a minimum of a high school diploma, closing physician owned schools, standardizing curricula. Interesting that the school admitted a female in the 1890’s.
    Thanks for writing this.

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