Belle Plain College

Belle Plain College, Belle Plain, Texas

Belle Plain College, photo from

Belle Plain College, an institution in Belle Plain, Callahan County, noted for its music department, was established in 1881 by the Northwest Conference of the Methodist Church. John Day gave the new school ten acres of land, and local citizens donated generously in the beginning. During its first year (1881–82) the college operated in conjunction with the public school. F. W. Chatfield served as its first president. After a state charter was granted to the institution in the spring of 1882, Rev. J. T. L. Annis took over as president for two years. During his administration enrollment reached 122. Other presidents at Belle Plain College were John W. McIllhenny (1884–85), C. M. Virdel (1885–87), and I. M. Onins (1887–92).

From the beginning the college advertised a department of music. By the end of the decade the school had fifteen pianos, a brass band, and an orchestra. By 1885 the institution had two buildings on its land, but the entire plant had been mortgaged to pay for classroom furnishings and musical instruments. Operating funds came only from the local school district, a fact that hastened the institution's demise. The railroad skipped Belle Plain, Baird became the Callahan county seat in 1883, and the population declined. Two years of bad weather further eroded the college's financial base. By 1887 the trustees of Belle Plain College were unable to make mortgage payments. Judge I. M. Onins took over the school with its debts in 1887 after a successful school year, but the mortgage company foreclosed on the property in 1889. The company allowed the school to continue to operate until the president's death in 1892. A Texas Historical Marker was erected at the site of Belle Plain Colege in 1969.  Source: Handbook of Texas Online.

Belle Plain College.  Early college of West Texas. Founded in 1881 by Methodist Church. Enrollment reached peak of 300 and students attended from throughout the region. College developed a superior course of study, with special strength in music. It had an orchestra and a brass band. A girl's dormitory was built soon after founding, and in 1885 a 3-story stone building was erected. School also had a military branch in town. Pupils wore blue and gray uniforms. After town lost both county seat and many citizens to Baird, 1883, college eventually closed. - Historical Marker Text.  Marker erected 1969.