New building, new name

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Fourth in a series exploring the 150th Year History of Freed-Hardeman University As president of West Tennessee Christian College, A.G. Freed revitalized plans for a new building to house the school. He raised funds in Henderson and the area to erect a new brick structure. Citizens of Henderson contributed $5,000 while J.F. Robertson of Crockett Mills donated $5,075 to memorialize his daughter, George Ann (Georgie) Robertson, who had died in 1895, a day after her 21st birthday.
Construction began in Summer 1897. N.B. Hardeman, now pursing a master’s degree, noted that “the building, constructed with locally made bricks, was built uninterrupted by summer rains.”
When the new building was dedicated, the name of the school had been changed to Georgie Robertson Christian College, albeit with some confusion about the name, as variants appeared in print. Whether Georgia or Georgie, the school did not differ significantly from its predecessor. The administration, curriculum and policies stayed the same.
Studies and time were strictly regulated. For example, students in the Teachers’ Course began their day at 5 a.m. Before breakfast, they studied arithmetic for an hour. Chapel followed breakfast, and then students studied such subjects as grammar, geography and history for an hour each. An hour of recitation per subject followed study time. After lunch, students practiced penmanship for an hour. Reading followed dinner. When 9 p.m. bedtime came, they had spent approximately 12 hours in study, reading and recitation.
Freed believed in an education that saved time and money. To illustrate his point, he prepared a chart contrasting GRCC’s normal school plan and what he called “the antiquated plan.” GRCC students worked 12 hours a day, six days a week, 40 weeks per year in study. The “antiquated” schedule called for eight hours a day, five days a week and 35 weeks in a year. Annually, GRCC students spent 2,880 hours in classes and study, while the other method called for only half as much time, 1,440 hours. In addition, Freed pointed out, GRCC saved money by charging students only $110, while students in the “antiquated” plan paid $300.
Information and quoted material drawn from Dr. Greg Massey’s forthcoming book, “By the Grace of God: The Story of Freed-Hardeman University,” which will be published and available for purchase from the university in Spring 2020.

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