Texas over Time: Baylor Female Building at Independence

July 8, 2014 Amanda Norman

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph collection. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” series of GIFs that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, changing aerial views, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.


      • The Baylor Female Building was built for Baylor University in 1857 by contractor John P. Collins and was three stories tall, with features including classrooms, an auditorium, a library, and recreation rooms.
Baylor Female Building

Baylor Female College, 1884

      • The building underwent structural repair in 1877 and continued to host Baylor students until 1886, when Baylor Female College (as the female department had been known since receiving its own charter in 1866), moved to Belton, Texas, and ultimately became the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. (1886 also was when Baylor University joined with Waco University.)
      • After Baylor Female College left, the building continued to be used as an academic building by the now defunct William Carey Crane Male and Female Colleges until the schools were renamed Binford University, and eventually closed altogether in 1897.
      • In the early half of the twentieth century, the neglected building became victim to a fire which gutted the building and hastened its demise. Soon, all that remained were the columns we see today (which have been restored a few times).
Independence columns, 1952

“Admiring bronze plaque installed on the restored columns of the old administration building of female department of Baylor at Independence, left to right: Dr. Gordon Singleton, President Mary Hardin-Baylor College, Belton; Judge Royston Crane of Sweetwater, Dr. W. R. White, President Baylor University, Waco; Judge E. E. Townes, Houston, V.P. Baylor Board of Trustees”

    • Starting in 2001, the columns were made a part of Baylor’s Line Camp experience, where incoming students are taken to the site and walk under the arch of the columns, thus symbolically joining the Baylor Line.
    • Baylor at Independence is now jointly overseen by Baylor University and the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.

See our Flickr set on Baylor at Independence for these and other images of the old building on Academy Hill.


Murray, Lois Smith. Baylor at Independence. Waco, Tex.: Baylor University Press, 1972. Print.

Dunn, Betty L. 1889: Baylor Campus at Independence Becomes a ‘Colored’ Catholic Orphanage & School. 2014. Print.

White, Michael A. History of Baylor University, 1845-1861. Waco, Tex.: Texian Press, 1968. Print.

“A Visit to Independence.” Baylor Magazine, Summer 2011: Vol. 9 Issue 4. Web.

Images: General photo files–Baylor–Buildings–Independence Campus

GIF and factoids by Braxton Ray, archives student assistant


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