Holding Institute

By: John H. McNeely

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: September 1, 1995

Holding Institute, originally known as Laredo Seminary, was founded at Laredo, Texas, in 1880 by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Its site, overlooking the Rio Grande south of Fort McIntosh, was donated by Elias Robertson. A. H. Sutherland and Joseph Norwood, both ministers, founded the school for the instruction of Mexican children. In 1883 Nannie Emory Holding of Covington, Kentucky, arrived at the seminary and was its superintendent until her retirement in 1913. During her administration the institute was enlarged to include seven buildings on a campus of twenty-six acres. A fifty-year charter was secured in April 1891. Bachelors degrees in teacher training were conferred before 1913. During the superintendency of James M. Skinner, 1913–29, instruction was continued through the normal school level. After being accredited by the state department of education, the school offered work only through the high school level. Ralph Emerson became superintendent in 1929, Carmen Blessing in 1930, and Anton Deschner in 1937. Floods from the Rio Grande in 1922 and 1932 damaged the campus and destroyed many records. In 1945 the school was under the supervision of the Woman's Division of the Board of Missions for the Methodist Church. Of the more than 11,000 students who had attended the school 35 percent were from Mexico. In May 1983, due to insufficient funds, the school was closed. In 1987 the Holding Institute reopened as a community center supervised by a division of the national Methodist Church. With a staff of eight the institute offered occupational and vocational classes that included sewing, upholstery, carpentry, cake decorating, and flower arrangement. The most popular classes were English as a second language and conversational English. These three-month classes usually attracted 140–150 students.

Nannie Emory Holding, A Decade of Mission Life in Mexican Mission Homes (Nashville: Methodist Episcopal Church, South, 1895).
  • Education
  • Defunct Elementary and Secondary Schools
  • Religion
  • Methodist

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

John H. McNeely, “Holding Institute,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 27, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/holding-institute.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 1, 1995