Texas Day by Day

On this day in Texas history…

Houston Academy chartered

August 29th, 1856

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On this day in 1856, the Houston Academy, a prominent antebellum school, was chartered. Its incorporators included Houston civic leaders William Marsh Rice, Peter W. Gray, Cornelius Ennis, and Thomas W. House. A building plan was developed by 1857, and the school opened in 1858. By 1859, with the help of a bequest of $5,000 from James H. Stevens and $20,000 raised by public subscription, the school occupied a two-story brick building and accommodated 400 students, with separate classrooms for boys and girls. Ashbel Smith served as superintendent. In addition to the usual academic subjects, classes were held in fencing, painting, and gymnastics. Sam Houston gave a speech at the school in December 1860, when it had 150 pupils. The academy was closed during the Civil War, and the building converted into a military hospital. The school's 600-volume library was used by wounded soldiers. In 1866 the academy reopened with W. J. Hammock as principal, 205 students, and a faculty of six. When the public schools opened in 1876, Owen L. Cochran presented the academy library to the Houston Lyceum. The school operated as part of the public school system thereafter and in 1878 was remodeled and renamed Clopper Institute, in honor of Professor E. N. Clopper.

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