Weatherford College of the Parker County Junior College District of Weatherford, Texas, has had a long and colorful history. Since its origin in 1869, the College has served tens of thousands in credit and non-credit courses and technical programs. It continues today, stronger than ever, with an even brighter future than any of its originators could have imagined.
During the first 20 years of its existence, WC was controlled by Phoenix Lodge No. 273, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Weatherford, Texas. The Masons of Texas, and especially members of Phoenix Lodge, had been interested in education of the youth of Texas and Parker County for many years. For this reason, the committee recommended to the members of the Lodge in March of 1869 that a brick structure 50 x 75 feet and two stories high be constructed for the use of both the Lodge and a school. The building was estimated to cost $12,000 and was to be named the Weatherford Masonic Institute.
Despite a very optimistic beginning, Phoenix Lodge soon was beset with financial problems, which would continue into the next 20 years. On May 23, 1885, Phoenix Lodge sold the Masonic Institute to Mr. M. C. Brown, and he leased the building to the Methodist Church. The Trustees changed the name to Cleveland College in hopes that it might influence President Cleveland to provide some financial support. It was noted that his support consisted of only 1,000 bound copies of the Congressional Record.
Meanwhile, at its annual meeting in 1873, the Weatherford District Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church South had passed a resolution authorizing the formation of a high school for Granbury and the authority to erect a three-story stone building to house the school. This school, too, was faced with financial difficulties, and in order to increase revenue, junior college courses were added, and Granbury College was born September 1881. Dr. David S. Switzer was elected president. The only Methodist Junior College in west Texas and very popular with the people of Granbury, the College grew in the next five years. However, in January 1887, the people’s optimism waned when the main building and all its contents were destroyed by fire.
Granbury College immediately initiated a rebuilding program, but because of severe drought, the money was not available. With no funds for rebuilding or to retire the mortgage, Dr. Switzer recommended that the College look for a new “home.”
One of the interested citizens of Granbury reported that a friend of his from Weatherford had called and told him the College property in Weatherford was for sale. Mr. Brown had been unable to make payments on his note for Cleveland College, and the college had reverted back to the Phoenix Lodge. This citizen committed to use his influence to move Granbury College to Weatherford “if the citizens of Granbury would purchase the property and furnish a certain amount of money sufficient to repair the present building for school purposes.”
Within four days, the citizens of Granbury complied with his request, and the Weatherford District Conference of the Methodist Church purchased the property, immediately changing the name from Cleveland College to Weatherford College. Thus ended the existence of Granbury College and its 16-year history. However, it was renewed under the name of Weatherford College to carry on the same type of work, which had characterized Granbury College. The history of Granbury College and Weatherford College is forever linked, because the Granbury institution’s president and faculty became Weatherford College’s first president and faculty.
Weatherford College existed as a Methodist college from 1889 until 1901 when it became a training school. It was officially called the Weatherford College Training School for Boys, and later, upon the admission of girls, was changed to Weatherford College Training School. In 1921, Weatherford College was reorganized and became a junior college, offering college transfer courses once again. It was still under the direction of the Methodist Church.
In December 1943, Weatherford College was merged with Southwestern University in Georgetown. This relationship continued until June 1949 when Weatherford College was released to the county of Parker. The State Board of Education approved the creation of a junior college district on July 11, 1949. This action allowed the College to receive financial assistance from the State of Texas.
The College officially serves the citizens of Parker, Palo Pinto, Hood, Jack and Wise counties.
Weatherford College currently has Education Centers in Mineral Wells and Granbury, and the new campus between Decatur and Bridgeport which opened in the fall 2012. Additionally, expansion into Eastern Parker County is in its early planning stages with the WC Board of Trustees approving in 2008 the purchase of 30 acres adjacent to the property bought by the Aledo ISD. A WC branch campus could be built on that site in the future.
“The future of our College is about as exciting as anyone could imagine. Major developments and expansions in not only our facilities but in our academic and technical course programming, as well, are keeping us busy,” said Dr. Kevin Eaton, president of WC. “Development in our service areas brings population growth and the need for educated workers and skilled employees. Weatherford College will be ready and eager to serve the new residents and businesses of Parker County and beyond.”
WC’s enrollment continues at a steady pace with an all-time record high registration in fall 2013 of more than 5,700. The hallmark of WC’s success is the personal attention each student receives. Students find the tools and encouragement they need to succeed in obtaining their associate’s degree and/or subsequent transfer to a four-year college. Statistics from area universities indicate that Weatherford College students perform as well or better academically than students from any other community colleges in the state.
A variety of collegiate experiences, including student organizations, entertainment activities, and intramural events provide students with the opportunity to find their niche in our student body. In addition to the nationally-acclaimed theatre, music and jazz programs, WC is known throughout the Northern Texas Junior College Athletic Conference for its excellence in men’s and women’s basketball and men’s baseball, and College officials are expecting great things from the new women softball program that was implemented in spring 2012. Members of the College rodeo team have achieved national championship recognition.