Thornton Institute, chartered on December 7, 1881, as the Thornton Male and Female Institute, was founded in 1877 by Edward Coke Chambers. Students took courses in Greek, Latin, French, algebra, surveying, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, and astronomy. The school was in session for ten months out of the year. Known to newspapers as Thornton College, the school grew rapidly. A frame building housed the classrooms, and "barracks" were used to house the students. Baccalaureate degrees were awarded to graduates; all ceremonies were conducted in Latin. On August 15, 1889, Henry P. Davis acquired the school, and two years later the property was given to the Thornton Independent School District.