Education in Beaumont
Beaumont is home to several educational institutions, including Lamar University. Founded in 1923, Lamar University offers a range of academic programs and has contributed to the intellectual and cultural development of the region. The city also has a strong focus on primary and secondary education, with numerous schools serving the community.
History of Education
The history of education in Beaumont, Texas, spans over a century and reflects the progress and challenges faced in providing quality education for all. The journey began in the mid-19th century with the establishment of the first documented school at William McFadden's home in 1850.
In 1850, the first documented school in the area was established at William McFadden's home. Four years later, the county court introduced five school districts in Jefferson County, with Beaumont serving as the home for district 1. By 1855, James Ingall's school on Pearl Street was attracting students, including children from prominent families like the Tevis and McFaddin households. However, Ingalls eventually left his teaching position to become the sheriff of Jefferson County. Other teachers acted as private tutors for wealthier cattlemen's children during this period.
In 1856, there was one school accommodating 75 scholars. Henry R. Green took up teaching in the mill district on Pine Street (formerly known as the Woodville Road), charging a tuition fee of $2 monthly. Soon after, Henry G. Willis began teaching at a second school located on Corn Street. In 1858, A. N. Vaughan founded the Beaumont Male and Female Academy, offering a diverse curriculum that included primary geography, higher mathematics, and painting, in addition to the basics of reading, spelling, writing, and arithmetic. Vaughan later became Mayor of Beaumont and the editor-publisher of the city's first newspaper, the Beaumont Banner.
Combined with Beaumont's early industry powerhouse, Lumber, many children were not able to attend schools in town. So, many of the mills had their own schoolhouses such as the one at Long Lumber Company (photo taken in 1880).
Education for African Americans
As of 1870, the first formal school for African American children was established in a building near the courthouse. It was later relocated to the upper floor of Rev. Woodson Pipkin's home. Pipkin, a former slave and bodyguard to Methodist minister John F. Pipkin, played a significant role in facilitating education for African American children. In 1871, Jefferson County had a total of 568 children of scholastic age (8 to 14), with 427 being white and 141 black.
In 1874, Charles Pole Charlton, another former slave who became a successful businessman, collaborated with Woodson Pipkin to organize a school for black children. In 1879, concerned citizens formed the Beaumont Academy Company on Park Street, constructing a building at a cost of $600 to provide public schooling since all the existing schools were private. The year 1883 saw the formation of the Beaumont School District, with all African-American children attending the Beaumont Colored School in the north end of town under the guidance of T. T. Pollard. In 1884, the first graded school system was introduced and in 1901, Charlton-Pollard had its first graduating class.
The 20th Century
Over the years, various educational institutions were founded, including St. Anthony Cathedral School in 1895, The George O'Brien Millard School (also known as Millard School) in 1910, Charlton-Pollard High School in 1925, and South Park Junior College (now Lamar University) in 1925. Texas' first bookmobile was introduced by the Tyrrell Library in 1929. The year 1932 marked the transformation of South Park Junior College into Lamar College, which later became Lamar State College of Technology in 1949.
In 1954, St. Mark's Day School commenced with one teacher and 15 students. However, racial integration faced challenges, and it was only in 1956, following a federal court ruling that Lamar College admitted its first twenty-six black students, deeming their "white youth" only policy as unconstitutional. All Saints' Episcopal School was dedicated on February 15, 1959, with two buildings constructed on Delaware Street adjacent to the church to accommodate 120 students from Pre-K through 3rd grade.
Throughout the years, various expansions and improvements were made to educational facilities. In 1972, plans were developed for an All Saints Episcopal School to accommodate students from Pre-K through 8th grade. In 1982, Forest Park High School and Hebert High School merged to form West Brook High School, and in 1983, the Beaumont and South Park School Districts merged to become the Beaumont Independent School District. In 1992, All Saints' Episcopal School's library was dedicated, and in 1994, plans for a Middle School designed by Milton H. Bell were unveiled. Finally, in 1995, Lamar Institute of Technology joined the Texas State University System.
The history of education in Beaumont reflects the city's commitment to providing accessible and inclusive education, overcoming challenges, and adapting to societal changes. Today, the educational landscape continues to thrive, with Lamar University and the Beaumont Independent School District serving as key institutions shaping the future of education in the area. In 2000, Beaumont ISD was chosen "Outstanding School Board in the State of Texas."