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WASHINGTON MASONIC ACADEMY

WASHINGTON MASONIC ACADEMY. The Washington Masonic Academy in Washington-on-the-Brazos was one of the earliest educational institutions in Texas. It was an example of the significant contribution of Masonic lodges to schools in Texas at the beginning of statehood. Masonic lodge No. 18 founded the academy in 1841 to provide nondenominational education; it had both male and female departments. Though the Republic of Texas had issued a charter for a Washington College in 1837, no evidence exists of a direct connection between this projected institution and the later Masonic school. Rev. L. P. Rucker was head of the Washington Masonic Academy until 1846. The Sims sisters served as instructors of the female department. By 1847 the male department was holding classes on the first floor of a two-story brick building under new department head H. B. Hurlbert, who remained until 1851. The Washington lodge continued financial assistance to the school under Hurlbert. After a brief interruption, C. W. Emmons and B. F. Wilson became instructors for that division, which included in its curriculum botany and chemistry as well as the classics. Under these new teachers the academy depended on parental support, but remained under the supervision of trustees. In 1852 the Washington Masonic Academy enrolled about 100 students. To relieve the school's $700 debt, the Masonic lodge in 1853 sold the academy building and five-acre property to Reverend Rucker, who had become head of the school again in 1852. The Washington lodge retained the right to send some students without charge to the academy; the Masons thus preserved a main purpose of the institution, the education of children of deceased or impoverished Masons. Reverend Rucker, who eliminated the male division in 1853, wished to transform the academy into an Episcopalian institution. His Washington Female Academy included calisthenics in its course of study, but this academy only functioned until 1854, because of a lack of community support. In 1855 S. H. Devore served as teacher of a Washington Academy, which may have been connected with the earlier school. This institution ceased operation in 1856. Washington Female Seminary, which held classes in 1856 and 1857, may have also descended from Rucker's academy, since one of its instructors, Mrs. E. S. Limber, had taught in the earlier institution.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

James David Carter, Education and Masonry in Texas, 1846 to 1861 (Waco Grand Lodge of Texas, 1964). Frederick Eby, The Development of Education in Texas (New York: Macmillan, 1925). Arthur A. Grusendorf, The Social and Philosophical Determinants of Education in Washington County, Texas, from 1835 to 1937 (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas, 1938).

Carole E. Christian

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Carole E. Christian, "WASHINGTON MASONIC ACADEMY," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/kbw05), accessed July 13, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.