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Lon Morris College

Tracy Don Sears General Entry

Lon Morris College was founded in 1854 as the New Danville Masonic Female Academy near Kilgore. In 1873, under the leadership of Dr. Isaac Alexander, a young Methodist minister, the school moved into Kilgore and became Alexander Institute. It was a private school until 1875, when it became a part of the East Texas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South. The school was moved to Jacksonville in 1894 and given the property of the Sunset Academy, a private school owned by a Jacksonville education organization, as an inducement to move. In Jacksonville it operated under the name Alexander Collegiate Institute. It was accredited by the Texas Department of Education in 1884 and by the University of Texas in 1895. The Twin Towers Building on the present campus on College Avenue was completed in 1909, and the school began to offer a junior college curriculum that same year. It was accredited by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, and by the Texas Department of Education. After the institution received an endowment from R. A. "Lon" Morris, a Methodist lay preacher and banker in Pittsburg, Texas, it became Lon Morris College in 1924. In 1927 Lon Morris College became the first junior college in Texas accredited by the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges, and two years later it also became the first approved for a chapter in Phi Theta Kappa, a national junior college honor society. The Texas Historical Commission recognized Lon Morris College as the oldest junior college in Texas in 1972 and approved a marker for the campus. Lon Morris is also the only one of the pre-Civil War schools in East Texas still in existence. In 1935, when the college faced severe financial difficulties during the Great Depression, Cecil E. Peeples took over as president. Through his nearly four decades of leadership, the college was able to erect a modern plant of twelve permanent buildings and increase its permanent endowment to more than $8 million. In 1976 Faulk Landrum was appointed president. In 1986 a new chapel was added to the campus. The college offers courses in three division: fine arts, humanities, and sciences. Enrollment in the fall of 1998 was 321, with thirty-five faculty. The president was Clifford M. Lee. Enrollment reached a record high of over 1,000 in the fall of 2009 and several new structures were either constructed or acquired from surrounding properties. However, the school soon ran into financial difficulties. In 2012 Lon Morris College filed for bankruptcy. Staff members were furloughed indefinitely and students were allowed to register at Tyler Junior College. The campus was subsequently auctioned in 2013. The school's last president was Dr. Miles McCall.

Cherokee County History (Jacksonville, Texas: Cherokee County Historical Commission, 1986). Glendell A. Jones, Jr., Mid the Pine Hills of East Texas (Jacksonville, Texas: Progress, 1973). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Categories:

  • Education
  • Community Colleges
  • Religion
  • Freemasonry

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

Tracy Don Sears, “Lon Morris College,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed October 29, 2020, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/lon-morris-college.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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