Texas Over Time: Waco Shakespeare Club Monument: “Immortal Be His Name”

January 15, 2019 geoff_hunt

By Geoff Hunt, Audio and Visual Curator

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

Waco Shakespeare Club Monument, Waco, TX

Along University-Parks Drive near the entrance to Waco’s Cameron Park Zoo lies an easily overlooked memorial that pays tribute to William Shakespeare (1564-1616), perhaps one of the most well-known and acclaimed writers in the English language. How and why is it there? In 1916, on the three hundredth anniversary of his death, the Waco Shakespere Club had it constructed and designed by Paul G. Silber, Sr. According to the Waco Shakespeare Club record’s at The Texas Collection, Baylor University, the organization began in the late 1890s at the Waco home of Kate Harrison Friend and her mother, Arimenta Harrison Friend, “conducting a private school guaranteeing their pupils thoroughness for higher grades.” Here, Kate Friend “…organized a class in the study of Shakespere for the single young ladies of the elite of Waco. Here so much profit and enjoyment was experienced, that on request, a class for young matrons was formed.” Thus officially forming the club in 1899.

Kate Friend also had the distinction of being internationally known as a Shakespeare scholar and authored several works on the subject. In 1900, she won a Shakespeare Association of America competition receiving a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom, Shakespeare’s place of birth. Waco’s Shakespeare memorial still stands as a reminder of the Englishman and “Miss Kate,” founder and director of the Waco Shakespeare Club, editor of Artesia, and animal rights advocate who loved his literary works and helped leave this lasting tribute to the betterment of her community.

Below are photos of just after the site’s construction in 1916, by E.C. Blomeyer, from the E.C. Blomeyer photographic collection #3880, and in 2019, by GH:

 

The memorial reads: “Shakspere! [SIC] Daign to lend thy face this romantic nook to grace where untaught nature sports alone since thou and nature are but one…1899-1916.” One side reads: “Immortal Be His Name, Waco Shakespeare Club, 1899-1916.” Photo by GH, 2018.
Women of the Waco Shakespere Club pose near Cameron Park in the 1920s. Waco Shakespeare Club records #745, Box 5, Folder 2.

 

The Founder and director of the Waco Shakespeare Club, Kate Harrison Friend, circa 1900, Kate Harrison Friend papers #202, Box 2 Folder 9

 

Close-up of memorial inscription, 2018, photo by GH.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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