Tennessee College for Women, 1907-1946

Tennessee College for Women, 1922

TENNESSEE COLLEGE FOR WOMEN 1907-1946 was located on the north side of East Main Street in Murfreesboro. In October 1905, an Educational Commission was appointed by the Baptist State Convention of Tennessee with instructions to seek a location and establish a college for women. Murfreesboro, with a population of 6,000, was chosen.

On January 25, 1906, UNION UNIVERSITY Trustees, A. J. Brandon, et al., deeded to TENNESSEE COLLEGE fourteen acres that had been the UNION UNIVERSITY campus before it moved to Jackson, Tennessee, in 1873. The cornerstone was laid September 11, 1906, and the doors opened September 11, 1907.

Tennessee College for Women (compliments of the Rutherford county Archive)

The Board of Directors was composed of C. H. Byrn, president; Gentry S. Smith, vice-president; Leland Jordan, secretary; R. W. Hale, treasurer; and members E. T. Rice, John Williams, E. S. Reaves, A. L. Todd, and others.

On June 29, 1919, R. W. Hale and wife Allie C., deeded to TENNESSEE COLLEGE their property bounded by University and Lytle Streets and the campus; and on June 22, 1920, W. T. Hale, Jr., and wife Katherine deeded for $23,200 the five acres and home that had been originally built for J. H. Eaton in 1849.

Tennessee College for Women (courtesy of the Rutherford County Archive)

The school building was of red pressed brick with a 256 foot frontage and two wings in the rear which formed a court of unusual beauty. It contained 135 rooms, including classrooms, bedrooms, a dining room, study hail, library, offices, and reception rooms. By 1908, the growth of the college necessitated an $8,500 addition to the building. This addition contained a
gymnasium, six classrooms for the elementary school, and fifteen music practice halls with fifteen Steinway pianos.

Tennessee College for Women, 1905

George J. Burnett was the first president, an office held until 1922. J. Henry Burnett was the first business manager.

Dr. E. L. Atwood was elected president in 1922 and served until 1940. Dr. James A. Kirtley was acting president during Dr. Atwood’s illness. Dr. Merrill D. Moore was president from 1942 until the college closed in 1946.

Among the teachers were Mr. J. K. Marshall, Mrs. J. K. Marshall, Floyd Crutchfield, Welsie Griffith, and Anna E. McFadden, all in 1912; Emily H. Dutton, Frances Bohannon, after whom the Music Club was named, Violet Gross Ervin, Elizabeth Braswell Stephens, Mary A. Strain, John T. Reynolds, Eva May Atwood, William Blake Canton, Rubye Taylor Sanders, Mollie Mopson Williams, and Dr. J. A. Kirtley.

The first degrees were given in 1912 to a graduating class of four, and the 35th graduating class in 1946 was comprised of sixteen graduates. The total number of graduates was 506. Considering the number of college girls who did not finish and all the preparatory students of early days, the total enrollment would be impressive.

In 1921, the Board of Trustees had voted to make TENNESSEE COLLEGE a standard college. This move eliminated the elementary and preparatory departments.

Traditions remembered are Green Cap Week for the freshmen, the President’s reception, the daisy chain, started in 1921 when the sophomores presented the chain to the seniors, and May Day.

Also remembered are the Ruskin and Lanier societies, camps at Monteagle, music recitals, visits to town, and the three porches: one for business, one for students, and the middle one for the faculty.

On October 18, 1946, the Tennessee Baptist Foundation sold to Rutherford County 24.48 acres, the college campus, for CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL.

During all of its existence, TENNESSEE COLLEGE held the distinction of being the only four-year college for women in Tennessee. It was in May 1941 that Dr. Moore led the Board of Trustees to amend the charter of the college to make official the name, TENNESSEE COLLEGE FOR WOMEN. In 1984 a historical marker was placed to mark the site of the school.

All assets and records are kept at Belmont in Nashville. The Tennessee College Alumnae Association still meets annually in Murfreesboro. Ethel L. Herron is the permanent secretary and Florence Cox McFerrin, the permanent treasurer.

SOURCES: Deed Book 47, p. 63; Book 64, pp. 366, 468; Book_95, p. 551. *Ethel L. Herron, secretary of Tennessee College Alumnae Association. Tommy Lowe Curtis, “History of Tennessee Colleqe for Women.” Typewritten. Souvenir Bulletin, Tennessee College, July 1910. The Dryad Yearbook 1912-1946. Dorothy Harrison, “Memories, Memories,” The Daily News Journal,
September 21, 1975, Section 3, p. 2. Chancery Court. Minute BookAA, pp. 502-504.

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