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Hinemon University School was established in 1890 at Monticello (Drew County) by an organization of local community and business leaders known as the Monticello Educational Society. As a semi-private and non-sectarian preparatory boarding school, Hinemon offered white boys and girls from across the Delta region an opportunity to obtain a quality secondary-level education. The school’s stated purpose was to “prepare pupils for university” and to give them “sufficient knowledge for good educational work as teachers or in other professions.”
Students at the Hinemon University School were immersed in the study of English, mathematics, Latin, science, Greek, music, and the visual arts. They were introduced to the discipline of philosophy and to languages such as German and French. Some courses were designed for students who, upon graduation, wished to seek employment in the field of business. The school was named for John H. Hinemon, one of its founding members, who was also Drew County examiner and the school’s first director. Hinemon subsequently left the school after a few years to become superintendent of the Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) school system. He later served as Arkansas’s state superintendent of public instruction and as president of Henderson College (the current site of Henderson State University).
During an era when Arkansas public schools often suffered from a lack of trained and qualified teachers, Hinemon University School found its niche. Its faculty included graduates from some of the nation’s finest colleges and universities. Moreover, the school enjoyed a supportive relationship with the residents of Monticello, who were credited with donating 250 volumes to the Hinemon University School, boosting the library’s holdings to more than 1,000 volumes. Prior to the 1904–05 school year, the town of Monticello provided a dormitory for the school. After Beauvoir College in the nearby town of Wilmar (Drew County) closed, Beauvoir’s founder and president, John L. Spence, took over the presidency at Hinemon University School and had the girls’ dormitory at Beauvoir College moved to the Hinemon University School campus.
Boarders at Hinemon University School were treated to an array of conveniences unique in this era. In 1907, boarders enjoyed “electric lights, artesian water, bathrooms and telephone.” Boarding fees and tuition at the school remained relatively stable over the years. Typically, room and board could vary from $6 to $11 a month, while tuition ranged from $2.50 to $4 annually. Mandatory fees for various services, uniforms, musical instrument rentals, additional instruction, and supplies increased costs incrementally. Although the school provided a lower-cost alternative in terms of private education, it was still cost prohibitive for many.
The city of Monticello purchased Hinemon University School in 1899, providing the Monticello superintendent of schools with administrative oversight of the institution. Nevertheless, the school maintained its semi-private status until 1910. By 1910, the landscape of public education was changing in Arkansas. Consequently, the Drew County school board took control of Hinemon University School and established Monticello High School, a free public high school for white children that did not charge tuition. Hinemon’s closure marked the final chapter of the history of a collection of private schools that operated in Drew County during the mid-to-late nineteenth century.
For additional information:Catalogue of the Hinemon University School, 1901–1902. Monticello, AR: J. D. Welsh, Printer, 1901. On file at Taylor Library Special Collections. University of Arkansas at Monticello, Monticello, Arkansas.
Catalogue of the Hinemon University School 1904–1905. Monticello, AR: 1904. On file at Taylor Library Special Collections. University of Arkansas at Monticello, Monticello, Arkansas.
Catalogue of the Hinemon University School, 1907–1908. Monticello, AR: Advance Printing Co., 1907. On file at Taylor Library Special Collections. University of Arkansas at Monticello, Monticello, Arkansas.
Coleman, Tom C. “A School Tale.” Drew County Historical Journal 4.1 (1989): 71–81.
DeArmond, Rebecca. Old Times Not Forgotten: A History of Drew County. Little Rock: Rose Publishing Co., 1980.
Paul EdwardsBoston, Massachusetts
Last Updated 6/21/2011
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