Historical Marker Text
Trinity Lutheran College - Founded by the Augustana Lutheran Synod, in 1904 synod representatives, seeking a location, selected Round Rock because of an offer of a well, 14 city lots, and freight concessions on building materials hauled by International & Great Northern Railroad. Cornerstone was laid on July 13, 1905, for a three-story native stone school building. With Dr. J. A. Stamline serving as president, first session opened Oct. 2, 1906. There were four faculty members, 48 academic students, and 11 enrolled in the music department. Total enrollment rose to 96 during the first year. Successive presidents were Alfred Anderson, 1909-1914; Theodore Seashore, 1914-1921; Dr. J. A. Stamline and Oscar Nelson, ad interim, 1921-1923; and Harry A. Alden, 1923-1929.
Despite such recognition as state accreditation (achieved 1920), school failed financially. In 1929 it merged with Evangelical Lutheran College, which was founded in 1891 at Brenham, moved to Seguin 1912, and with this merger became Texas Lutheran College. On the vacated Round Rock campus, Lutheran Welfare Society on Oct. 9, 1929, opened Trinity Lutheran Homes, to care for children and aged persons. In 1972 only one of the former college buildings still survives.
Trinity Lutheran College
by the Round Rock Leader May 30, 1973
112 East Main Street
Round Rock, Tex. 78664
One of several religious groups that tried and subsequently failed to establish a permanent educational facility in Round Rock was the Swedish Lutherans. In 1906 with the help of several influential Round Rock businessmen, the Lutherans established Trinity Lutheran College at the east end of Main Street.
From the founding of the school to it was closing in 1929, the ambitious leaders of the preparatory school were faced with two problems familiar to many private institutions today – obtaining funds and attracting students. Financial problems were first noted in May 1904 when the Kansas Conference of the Augustana Lutheran Synod approved the establishment of the institution of higher learning in Texas but added that it was “unable to assume the financial responsibility for the same.”
The promoters of the school, most pastors in the Churches’ Austin District, were not put off by the lack of funds but took the Conferences’ action as a go-ahead signal and formed an interim school board. The President of the board was Dr. J. A. Stamline, a pastor who supported the school both morally and financially until its closing.
As president, Stamline undertook a three month campaign to raise $25,000 in contributions from the Church’s Texas members.
With less than 1,200 active members in the state, Stamline’s job in both gathering funds, and later students, was monumental.
The board was encouraged by the early response to the fund drive and selected Round Rock as the site for the new College; because through Mr. John A. Nelson, Round Rock offered a cash bonus of $7,000, four city lots, and a water well. In addition, the Great Northern Railway Company offered to donate one-half the cost of freighting building material.
A building committee, which included Nelson, hired an Austin Architect to draw up plans for an administration building and boys and girls dormitory. Because the administration cost twice the $8,000 allotted by the board, the dormitories were never to be built.
On July 13, 1905, the cornerstone was laid. The school was opened the following October with 38 students and three teachers. Most of the preceding year had been spent trying to gather the needed $25,000 and in finding a school president. After the board had approached several Lutheran pastors in other states, it chose Dr. Stamline as the school’s first president.
By the end of the first year, the enrollment had grown to 96, and a fourth teacher was hired to head the business department. Students formed several traditional clubs – two literary societies and a debate club. Another very active organization was the Anti-Cigarette League, which required its members to pledge themselves to abstain from the use of all forms of tobacco. The organization was so popular that an auxiliary was formed by the female students.
The school catalogue for the second year credited the League with obtaining a ban “upon the evil at the institution”.
The League remained active for two years.
One of the pamphlets distributed by the organization describes “the Tell-Tale Tremor,” of which young tobacco smokers were the reported victims.
While the school did not incur any debts during its first years, its enrollment declined and never again reached its first-year peak. Encouraged by the success of the first year, the board built a president’s residence, and by the third year, the school was in debt, a situation from which it was never able to extract itself.
Streamline resigned in 1909 and was followed by Pastor Alfred Anderson of Massachusetts. Anderson stayed for four years, during which time an unsuccessful fund drive was undertaken, and teachers, including Anderson, assumed many more class hours. Crop failures and the war in Europe brought the enrollment down to about 46, where it remained for some years.
In his graduate thesis on the College, H.C. Alden who served as the last president of the College, says Anderson’s resignation apparently caused “divisions among ever loyal friends of the school “which were never fully overcome.
Anderson was followed in 1915 by Dr. Theodore Seashore. During Seashore’s presidency, the school's receipts were greater than its expenses, but despite a fundraising drive, which netted some $18,000, the debt remained at about $5,000.
In the summer of 1921, Seashore left, and Streamline was called upon to become the acting president. Until H.C. Alden assumed the presidency in 1923, the school was administered by a series of temporary presidents.
As early as 1921, several board members expressed a belief that the school should close. A committee was named to investigate relocating the school in Austin. Streamline complained that this was crippling the work of the College by causing a loss of confidence in it.
In 1925 the board decided to try an experiment to increase the enrollment, and at Alden’s urging, voted to have the school open a Junior College department. The high school level Academy was to remain. A drought hampered attendance, and only 15 students enrolled despite accreditation by the state, 23 persons enrolled in the College department for the next year.
In May of 1928, with the fate of the school even more in doubt, the board appointed a committee to approach businessmen to obtain fund to repair the south wing of the building which had sunk 11 inches.
Without extensive repairs, the building would not be useable for the following year.
CA. and T.E. Nelson, sons of J.A. Nelson, agreed to give $4,000 if the school retained the junior college. The Round Rock Chamber of Commerce raised an additional $2,000 with the same stipulation.
Despite members of surrounding parishes voting to close the junior college department, the $6,000 from Round Rock and a $5,000 grant from the national conference convinced the board to continue the school.
During the summer, the walls were taken down, and a reinforced foundation was placed on rock strata ten feet below the ground, and the walls were rebuilt.
Then the school opened that fall total enrollment in both the junior college and academy was the same. In February, the board voted to lower tuition in an attempt to attract more students, but in April 1929, Alden resigned, saying he believed it was impossible to continue longer.
Soon after representatives of the school’s board met with other Lutheran denomination officials at the Lutheran College in Sequin.
The group decided to sell the Trinity property to the Lutheran Aid and Orphan Society. The directors of Trinity were to send the Lutheran College at Sequin $1,500 for four years to help pay the cost of one professor.
The Aid Society used the property for an orphanage and old age home until 1959 when it became Trinity Lutheran Nursing Home.
Mrs. La Reinhart, the administrator of the home, says more structural problems occurred in the early 1930s, and the old college building was torn down.
A small stone bathhouse, which was built in 1911, is the only school structure still remaining.