SFA Story: The History of Stephen F. Austin State University

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The SFA Story

Why History Matters at SFA

R.A. Hall Homestead - The original building on campus
R.A. Hall Homestead - The original building on campus

History is part of the fabric of the place we call SFA. The State Legislature had history in mind when they insisted that the name Stephen F. Austin go on the new college, even though in the legislation they specified a site "east of the 96th meridian." The state wanted to honor the Father of Texas. The State Board of Regents in 1917 selected Nacogdoches because of its rich historical traditions. The citizens selected as the property for the new college the homestead of Thomas J. Rusk and property previously owned by Sam Houston.

By a stroke of historic irony, the new college had to open on the Old University campus on Washington Square; the new campus was incomplete at the time of opening. Symbolically, the higher educational pioneers in East Texas (Birdwell and his handful of faculty) had to conduct their business in a one room schoolhouse, "The Shack." The first president of the college was a historian and never gave up his profession as such. The first faculty member hired, a woman - Lois Foster [Blount], was an historian. The yearbook committee in 1923-24 met in the Memorial Building (the Old Stone Fort on Washington Square), named the annual edition the Stone Fort ; the college led the restoration movements in the state by reconstructing the Old Stone Fort on campus in 1936 as a part of the Texas Centennial celebrations of that year. The third and fourth presidents of SFA were also practicing historians.The History Department was one of the original departments at the new college.

SFA has always celebrated its heritage in anniversary years. The SFA Story website will feature many of the articles written on these occasions.

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