Morrillton Male and Female College

In the spring of 1889, the residents of Morrilton (Conway County) put together a fund of $15,000 to build a college in the area. While a site was being selected, there arose the possibility of Hendrix College in Altus (Franklin County) moving to Morrilton, and the original plan to found a new college was abandoned. However, Morrilton failed to acquire Hendrix. Therefore, a stock company with a capital of $25,000 was organized with the intent to carry out the initial plan of building a college.

A committee selected a site in the eastern part of Morrilton for the venture. A two-and-a-half-story stone building with arcaded windows and a ninety-one-foot tower was completed in March 1890. Morrilton Male and Female College began its first session the following September. William Beverley Toon (sometimes misidentified as W. B. Trow) and Thomas P. Murray served as joint principals of the school. The college taught courses necessary to gain entrance into larger colleges: Latin, Greek, mathematics, science, music, art, elocution, and more. While it opened for a second school year in September 1891, it faded from sight shortly thereafter. In the late 1890s, the property became part of the Morrilton public school district.

Sometime in the 1920s, the Romanesque structure was renovated, and a Collegiate Gothic addition designed by John P. Almand replaced the tower and original entrance. The original cornerstone could still be seen in the northeast corner with the inscription “MORRILTON MALE AND FEMALE COLLEGE, 1889.” In 1920, the building began to be used as the Morrilton High School. This lasted until 1966, when it came to serve as the junior high. The building was last used as a school in 1976. The Morrilton Male and Female College was added to the National Register of Historic Places in August 1979, although it was removed from the register in 1999 after the destruction of part of the building (including the 1920s addition).

For additional information:
Conway County, Arkansas: Our Home, Our Land, Our People. Little Rock: Historical Publications of Arkansas, 1992.

Historical Reminiscences and Biographical Memoirs of Conway County, Arkansas. Van Buren, AR: Press-Argus, 1967.

Caty Henderson
University of Central Arkansas

Staff of the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas


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