Texas over Time: Texas Christian University, Waco campus fire–before and after

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 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.

TCUDid you know that Texas Christian University was in Waco for about 15 years? Images can be found in the general photo files (Waco–TCU)

  • Founded in 1873 by Addison and Randolph Clark, and formerly known as Add-Ran College, TCU was originally located at Thorp Spring (Hood County). In 1890, the university obtained new ownership by the Disciples of Christ.
  • When the Waco Female College closed, the Christian Church of Waco promised to give TCU the building if they relocated their school to Waco, along with $5,000 and fifteen acres of land. They relocated in December 1895.
  • In 1902, the school’s second president, E.V. Zollars was elected. Almost immediately, there was a vote to change the name of the school to Texas Christian University, with the AddRan name used for the AddRan College of Arts and Sciences.
  • On March 22, 1910, a fire destroyed the main building of the college, which was used for academic purposes as well as for dormitory space. Students living on the top floor had to abandon all their belongings. Wacoans offered their homes to house the displaced students, and Baylor offered its classrooms, libraries, laboratories, etc.,
  • By May 1910, the school’s leadership decided to move to Fort Worth. Waco, McKinney, Gainesville, Dallas, and Fort Worth all submitted bids for TCU to help rebuild the school, but Fort Worth’s bid offered the most financial incentive and other support.

Works Cited

Kelley, Dayton. “Texas Christian University.” The Handbook of Waco and McLennan County, Texas. Waco: Texian, 1972. 262-63. Print.

Moore, Jerome Aaron. Texas Christian University: A Hundred Years of History. Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1974. Print.

GIF and factoids by Haley Rodriguez, archives student assistant. See these  images in our Flickr set. More information about TCU in Waco can be found on the Waco History app website.



  • Charles Guittard

    January 19, 2016 at 9:44 am Reply

    Interesting. Was Add-Ran designed by Larmour, the architect who did Old Main and Burleson? There is something of a resemblance.

    • Amanda Norman

      January 19, 2016 at 3:53 pm Reply

      Hi Charles, good eye! Larmour did have a hand in the plans for the main building (which was initially designed for Waco Female College, then adopted and completed by AddRan/TCU).

  • Phil Brown

    January 19, 2016 at 12:04 pm Reply

    Your GIFs transition too fast! I can’t stop to enjoy the images.

  • Ellen

    January 19, 2016 at 12:30 pm Reply

    Where were these buildings located in Waco?

    • Amanda Norman

      January 19, 2016 at 3:15 pm Reply

      Hi Ellen, the TCU campus was in North Waco, in an area that was called University Heights–the historical marker is at Mitchell and 19th Street, pretty close to the Methodist Children’s Home. You can see it mapped on the Waco History app.

  • linda eaton

    January 19, 2016 at 2:23 pm Reply

    where in Waco was the building? Man it was a very large building.

    • Amanda Norman

      January 19, 2016 at 3:16 pm Reply

      Hi Linda, it was a large building–it was considered one of the best academic buildings in the state before it burned! It was located in North Waco, with the historical marker located at 19th and Mitchell.

      • linda eaton

        January 19, 2016 at 4:57 pm Reply

        what a shame that it burned. such a beautiful building

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