St. Philip's College

By: John S. Gray III

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: February 10, 2021

St. Philip's College, a junior college in the Alamo Community College District on the east side of San Antonio, was founded in 1898 by James Steptoe Johnston, bishop of the Western Texas Diocese of the Protestant Episcopal Church. It was initially known as St. Philip's Normal and Industrial School. At first the school was a weekend sewing class for six Black girls held by a Miss Cowan in an old adobe house at what is now 502 La Villita. From 1900 to 1902 the school was directed by Perry G. Walker. In September 1902 Artemisia Bowden joined the school as administrator and teacher. Under her supervision the school grew from an industrial school for girls into a high school and later a junior college. During this period the institution was known as Bowden's School. In 1917 the school moved from La Villita to its present location. In September 1927, after several building additions, St. Philip's became a junior college for the Black community of San Antonio and vicinity. It remained a private Episcopal school until 1942, when it became a municipal junior college affiliated with San Antonio College under the auspices of the San Antonio Independent School District. The name St. Philip's Junior College was retained. In October 1945 the colleges were placed under a district board of trustees that replaced the San Antonio Independent School District and was called the San Antonio Union Junior College District (now Alamo Community College District). Under this administration in 1955 St. Philip's College began admitting White students, and Black students were admitted to San Antonio College. In 1987 St. Philip's added the Southwest Campus, formerly part of Kelly Air Force Base, as an official campus; it had previously served as an extension center. In 1996 the college opened the Northeast Learning Center and in 1997, in collaboration with the city of San Antonio, the Learning and Leadership Development Center. St. Philip's is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the National Accrediting Groups for Allied Health and Nursing Programs, and the Federal Aviation Administration. The college is a member of the American Association of Community and Junior Colleges, the Texas Junior College Association, the Texas Public Community and Junior College Association, the Texas Community College Teachers Association, and the Association of Texas Colleges and Universities. St. Philip's College had 601 faculty members and 10,828 students in the fall of 2010. Adena Williams Loston was president.

Clarence Windzell Norris, Jr., St. Philip's College (Ann Arbor, Michigan: Xerox University Microfilms, 1975). San Antonio Express, September 14, 1955. Kenneth Tollett, Black Institutions of Higher Learning (Washington: Howard University Institute for the Study of Educational Policy, 1981). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

  • Education
  • Community Colleges
  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Religion
  • Protestant Episcopal

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

John S. Gray III, “St. Philip's College,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed August 11, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

February 10, 2021

This entry belongs to the following Handbook Special Projects: