Stephen F. Austin State University and the Tradition of Education in Historic Nacogdoches
The Spanish Friars who built the Mission of our Lady of
Nacogdoches passed to the townspeople a sense of
scholarship and educational responsibility. Prominent citizens
such as Sam Houston and Thomas J. Rusk were well known for
their attention to education. Town citizens pursued the
establishment of a Univeristy in the 1840's.
The Republic of Texas granted a charter for a school in
February 1845. Nacogdoches University was a preparatory
school with some college subjects included in the curriculum.
Townspeople gave money, materials, land and labor to support
the school and secure for their children the best education
possible. The school moved into its permanent home on
Washington Square in 1858. Hard times began with the Civil
War; later, several entities operated the institution, including
the Catholic Church, local Masons, and Keachi College of
Louisiana. In 1904 The trustees deeded the campus to the newly
created Public School District of Nacogdoches. Citizens began
a movement in 1906 to lobby for the formation of a new
college. This culminated in the first, although ultimately unsuc-
cessul, attempt to establish an East Texas Normal School in
When legislation in 1917 called for a College "East of the
96th meridian," Nacogdoches organized a citizens' committee.
A pamphlet entitled "Twenty-Three Reasons why Stephen F. Austin
State Normal College ought to be located at Nacogdoches..."
stated their case. As they had 70 years earlier, the People of
Nacogdoches lobbied heavily for the new college, pledging
208 acres of land, 250 students, paved streets, and free
electricity to the institution. When the opening was postponed
from the summer of 1923 to the fall, the town recruited
students from all of East Texas and even supplied a temporary
home for a year--Washington Square.
(Texas Historical Commission Commemorative plaque)
(Next Picture: Griffith Fine Arts)