By Phyllis DeRoos – Hood County News dated August 17, 1980
There are no remains except those which have been displaced and those that linger in the memories of a few among us.
Some may be surprised to find that such a place ever existed, but you can be sure that it did. Once, atop a hill north of Granbury where now only rows of stone and granite mark capsules of time, stood a three-story native limestone structure that represented a part of the community’s rich cultural heritage, Granbury College.
In the summer of 1873, as a result of a District meeting of the Weatherford Methodist Conference over which Rev. James Jones was the presiding elder, officials recognized a need for an educational facility in this area of the state, and it was decided that a District High School would be opened in Granbury.
Not wishing to delay the educational process any further, a school organized and headed by Rev. W.P. Wilson was opened the following September in a rock building on the Southeast corner of the square. Meanwhile, a small frame structure that had been planned by the Conference was being constructed and as soon as it was completed, the school, along with a music department that was headed by Miss Bettie Black of Jefferson, moved into it.
After only a few terms in the wooden structure, enrollment and interest in the school had increased to the level that expansion was once again needed, and this time the residents of Granbury rallied to the task. By the opening of the 1881-1882 term, they had raised the money and erected a three-story building on the site where Granbury Cemetery is located today.
The college, which had become a chartered institution on July 6, 1875, was originally conceived as a “feeder” school for Southwestern University in Georgetown. It offered a two-year coeducational program based on the quarter system for college age students as well as an elementary department that “covered the usual courses up through the seventh grade” and an advanced eighth grade.
By 1883, the school had a total enrollment of 313 pupils, and eight diplomas were granted in 1886. Rates were listed as board (including room), $10 to $12 a month with “washing” $1.00 per month.
The school enjoyed several prosperous years until, tragically, the building and all of its contents were completely destroyed on Jan. 9, 1887, just after the students had returned from their Christmas holidays. However, D.S. Switzer (one of the college’s presidents) wrote, “before the sun had set on the following day, a demoralized body of boarding pupils was pacified and ready to carry on their work. The Methodist and Baptist churches and Gordon Hall were engaged to provide classroom space and money sufficient to insure a better building was promised.”
The building that followed within the year was bigger and better; but with it came the huge debt that with the following year of drought and other problems brought the downfall of the college.
A 1909 Granbury College catalog lists subject offerings as history, English, mathematics, Latin, science, Greek, German, a course in Bible and church methods, and a commercial course which included bookkeeping, penmanship, type-writing, et cetera. The school had a fine arts department, art department, and an athletics program which included tennis and baseball. There were two collegiate societies, the Phaino, a literary group and the Aldelphian. Enrollment for that year was 124 and the cost for board, fuel, light and tuition was about $220 for the full term.
It is thought the college formally closed its doors in 1912 and that some part of it went on to become (or already had become) part of Weatherford Jr. College. Its effects like those of its sister, Add-Ran, were great upon the local population and many enjoyed the Lyceum series that it provided.
The available list of presidents includes: Rev. W.P. Wilson, A.B., 1873 to 1875; Rev. J.J. Shirley, A.B., 1875 to 1880; D.S. Switzer, A.M., 1880 to 1891; E.P. Williams, A.M., 1891 to 1894; T.S. Sligh, A.M.; and Rev. Atticus Webb, A.M.