Stuttgart Training School
aka: Stuttgart College
aka: Stuttgart Normal School
Stuttgart Training School, an educational facility offering college preparation to students in the Stuttgart (Arkansas County) area, operated under several names from 1889 through 1915. Known alternately as Stuttgart Normal Institute, Stuttgart College, and Stuttgart Training School, it was affiliated at various times with the Presbyterian and Methodist denominations and operated for a time as a non-sectarian academy. It offered unusually well-educated professors for a school of its size and for a town as newly settled as Stuttgart. Many of the school’s students would go on to become the Grand Prairie region’s leading citizens of the early to mid-twentieth century, including Belle McFall and Fred Wilcox.
The school occupied ten acres along the south side of 15th Street, between Grand Avenue and Main Street. In its early existence, a mule- or horse-drawn streetcar served the campus from the Cotton Belt railroad depot. The academic building faced north from the end of College Street. A girls’ dormitory was located to the west along 15th Street, while two smaller accommodations for boys stood on the east side of the campus.
There were four distinct periods of management and affiliation following the school’s 1889 opening. According to a 1900 court case, Pettit v. Stuttgart Normal Institute, trustees of Stuttgart Normal Institute Corporation acquired ten acres for the campus on November 23, 1889. Classes began right away in temporary quarters until construction was complete. The trustees were William “Mack” Price, Thomas H. Leslie, John H. Hutchinson, John A. Thompson, James W. Porter, Joseph I. Porter, Jasper F. Whaley, Thomas H. Ware, and J. G. Christmas. The property was to be maintained as an institution of learning managed by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (MECS). The Stuttgart Normal Institute operated from 1889 until December 7, 1892, when the MECS abandoned the facility, after which time it was operated by a group of local citizens. The Peabody Educational Fund, which promoted education in the southern states, also sustained the school in its early days. During this second phase, the school was called Stuttgart Normal Institute. The two known principals from this era were Robert D. Allen and the Reverend Granville Goodloe.
After the period of local sponsorship, a third phase of the school’s operation began around 1896. The United Presbyterian Church assumed administration of the school, which by this time was known as Stuttgart College. It was affiliated with Monmouth College of Illinois and Tarkio College in Missouri. The school’s first principal was the Reverend J. J. Thompson, who resigned in 1898 to serve in the Spanish-American War. He was replaced by the Reverend Edward E. McKee. Stuttgart College’s first class graduated in 1899.
The fourth and final chapter of the school’s history began in 1906, when the MECS again assumed administrative control. Several prominent county families relocated to Stuttgart to educate their children at the facility. Around this time, the name was changed to Stuttgart Training School. Trustees were Joseph I. Porter, C. F. Clark, William M. Price, W. M. Hayes, and W. W. Christie. The first principal was Professor Claud O’Rear, followed in 1909 by R. Ralph Standley. The last known Stuttgart Training School principal was the Reverend Amos P. Few. He traveled around Arkansas County recruiting students from outlying areas. Due to a failing financial situation, partly brought on by the 1912 opening of the new Stuttgart High School, the MECS sold the campus in March 1915, with proceeds going to pay off its debt. The school did not reopen after the 1914–1915 term. The main academic building was razed shortly thereafter, while the dormitories were put to use elsewhere in the city.
For additional information:
Hightower, Sybil Y., ed. “The College at Stuttgart.” Grand Prairie Historical Bulletin 22 (October 1979): 43–44.
Pettit v. Stuttgart Normal Institute, 67 Ark. 430, decided February 10, 1900.
Ruffin, Bernice. “The Stuttgart Training School.” Grand Prairie Historical Bulletin 14 (October 1971): 5–12.
Seidenschwarz, Gena, and Glenn Mosenthin. “Stuttgart Training School: A History and Curriculum.” Grand Prairie Historical Bulletin 58 (October 2015): 2–21.
Stuttgart Training School Announcement, 1909–1910. On file at Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie, Stuttgart, Arkansas.
H. Glenn Mosenthin
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