Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

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High Gate College, a coeducational school established by the Methodist Episcopal Church South and originally known as Methodist College, offered a liberal-arts education in a strict moral environment. With 130 students, the institute opened in the Methodist Church at 302 East Tonhawa, Norman, Oklahoma Territory (O.T.), on September 18, 1890, one year after the Land Run of 1889. Students paid three dollars per month for tuition, and out-of-town students paid ten dollars per month for room and board.

In March 1891 ten acres at the east end of Main Street in Norman were selected as the site for a new building. However, economic hard times delayed the construction of a three-story, brick-and-stone edifice until 1893. Rev. Andrew J. Worley served as president when the school moved from the church to the new facility, known as High Gate College. Opened as a school for girls, the college stated in its promotional literature that "young ladies desiring to have a good time will not find this institution to their liking."

One of the earliest private institutes opened in O.T., High Gate College had a grammar school, a high school, and a college. The establishment soon faced competition from the Norman Business School and the Noble Academy in nearby Noble, O.T. A more serious challenge came from the University of Oklahoma (OU), opened in 1892 as a coeducational facility with free tuition for territorial residents. Apparently, a deal was struck between OU Pres. David Ross Boyd, who was pressured by the Territorial Legislature to increase enrollment, and Methodist Bishop John H. Vincent, who promoted the idea of a religious denomination building dormitories adjacent to a tuition-free university, thus eliminating the need for a private college. In the fall of 1894 students began transferring to OU, and High Gate College closed in December 1894. The Oklahoma Sanitarium Company bought the High Gate building, which became the Oklahoma State Asylum (now Griffin Memorial Hospital).


BIBLIOGRAPHY: Daily Oklahoman (Oklahoma City), 13 January 1895. Stanley W. Hoig, "A History of the Development of Institutions of Higher Education in Oklahoma" (Ph.D. diss., University of Oklahoma, 1971). Oscar A. Kinchen, "Oklahoma's First College, Old High Gate, At Norman," The Chronicles of Oklahoma 14 (September 1936). Norman (Oklahoma) Transcript, 22 April 1893.

Linda D. Wilson

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