College of the Sisters of Bethany, commonly called "Bethany College," located at Topeka, Kan., has a history coincident with that of the Episcopal diocese of Kansas. In 1859, Bishop Kemper called a convention to organize the diocese, and in the report of the educational committee is found the following statement: "There is a female seminary duly incorporated at Tecumseh, Shawnee county. Liberal donations have been secured and a building is being erected to be used in Sept., 1860."
The convention adopted resolutions approving the erection of a female seminary and recognized it as one of the church institutions of the diocese. The location at Tecumseh proved unsatisfactory, and it was not long until the institution was removed to Topeka. Through the influence of the rector of Grace Church, Topeka, a seminary building was commenced on a plat of ground bounded by Eighth, Tenth and Folk streets, and Western avenue.
"The Episcopal Seminary of Topeka" was organized under a charter granted by the territorial legislature on Feb. 2, 1861, giving it the rights of a college. The first session of the school opened on June 10, 1861, with Mr. Preston as principal, two assistant instructors and 35 pupils. In 1865 the school reopened with Rev. J. N. Lee as principal and a staff of five assistants. Five years later the management decided to abandon the old charter and a new one was obtained under the state laws on Feb. 4, 1870. The property which had been held by Wilson Shannon as trustee was turned over to a board of trustees, and on July 10, 1872, the name of the institution was changed to the College of the Sisters of Bethany. This name does not refer to any order of sisters, but to the scriptural model of the two sisters of BethanyMary and Martha.
In 1900 the college received a legacy of over $35,000 from Phelix R. Brunot of Philadelphia, Pa., and in 1907 opened a school for boarding pupils between the ages of seven and twelve years in a separate building from the college. The main building, Wolf Hall, was erected at a cost of $70,000 in 1872. In 1875 two stone buildings, a laundry and a barn were built at a cost of $10,000. Holmes Hall, built in 1881, cost $18,000 and Burr Hall, an addition to Wolf, was built in 1884. In addition there is a stone boiler house and chaplain's residence. The courses of the school include a kindergarten, primary and intermediate departments; a four-year college preparatory course; four-year academic course for pupils who do not intend to enter college, and a college course equivalent to the first two years of work in the University of Kansas. There is a two-year kindergarten training course and work done here receives credit at the Chicago Kindergarten College, Chicago, Ill. Special courses are offered in music, art and elocution. The college is under the supervision of Rt. Rev. Frank R. Millspaugh, bishop of the diocese, who acts as president of the school. Meliora C. Hambletin is the principal, assisted by a staff of sixteen instructors. The institution is supported by tuition and the income from its endowment fund. The property is valued at about $400,000. Bethany is one of the few women's colleges in Kansas.Pages 389-390 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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