Reynolds Presbyterian College

By: H. Allen Anderson

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: May 1, 1995

Reynolds Presbyterian College was chartered originally as an academy in February 1898 by the Reynolds and Matthews families of Albany, Texas. With encouragement from the Presbyterian pastor, French McAfee, a board of trustees was organized with George T. Reynolds as president. The school, named in honor of Barber Watkins Reynolds, opened that fall. Classes were initially held in the church and a vacant store building. On January 10, 1899, the permanent school facility, a two-story, turreted structure of pressed brick with white stone trim built on a hill just west of town, was ready for occupation. It had a music room and a library. O. E. Arbuckle served as the academy's first principal and was succeeded by C. R. Melcher, John Andrew Carnagay, H. H. Britan, and Paul Baker. The academy was established primarily for the children of the founding families. In 1909 it was taken over by the Abilene Presbytery and raised to college rank. Rev. Levan Gray was installed as president. By September 1910 a two-story dormitory had been added to the campus structures. In addition to the standard academic curriculum, the college had programs in music and recreational sports, including baseball and football. However, despite its high moral and academic standards, the college's location in a relatively poor and sparsely populated area of West Texas resulted in a lack of sufficient patronage. Many of the Reynolds and Matthews heirs chose to go elsewhere for college, and by 1914 the institution was abandoned. Meanwhile, beginning in 1913, the dormitory became Reynolds Presbyterian Home, an orphanage under the supervision of J. Gilmor Smith and his wife; the main building later became part of the orphanage. The orphanage moved to Dallas, and the buildings were razed in 1927.

Ruby McGill Dodge, Reynolds Presbyterian Academy and College (Belton, Texas: Bell, 1960). Sallie Reynolds Matthews, Interwoven: A Pioneer Chronicle (Houston: Anson Jones, 1936; 4th ed., College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1982).
  • Education
  • Defunct Colleges and Universities
  • Religion
  • Presbyterian
  • West Texas

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

H. Allen Anderson, “Reynolds Presbyterian College,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 10, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 1, 1995