Filed Under Education

Huntsville Academy

Shortly after the town of Huntsville was incorporated, founder Pleasant Gray donated five acres of land for the creation of a school. The new institution began operations as early as 1845 and received a charter on April 11, 1846. Originally, the school offered education to both boys and girls and was known as the Huntsville Academy. Citizens in Huntsville raised the funds to build what was later described as a schoolhouse “built elegantly of red brick.” After serving as a coed school for several years, the Huntsville Male Institute broke away in either 1847 or 1848 (sources differ). From then on, they were separately known as Huntsville Male Academy and Huntsville Female Academy. When Austin College replaced Huntsville Male Institute, the remaining female school became know as the Female Academy or simply, the Brick Academy. It had an average enrollment of approximately 70 young women.

William Viser, Thomas Gibbs, M. Barrett, F. L. Hatch, and M. C. Rogers served as trustees of the school, and many famous residents of Huntsville worked for the institution. Dr. Samuel McKinney, who later became the first President of Austin College, taught at the Brick Academy as did the missionary-turned author Melinda Rankin. While in Huntsville, Rankin completed her famous book, Texas in 1850, in which she spoke very highly of Huntsville and the surrounding county.

According to records, the community occasionally used the sturdy school building for other purposes. The organizational meeting of the First Baptist Church took place in the Brick Academy, and the congregation appears to have used it to hold regular church services until a new sanctuary was built.

The Brick Academy served the community of Huntsville as a school for young women only for a short time. In 1853, the Methodist Church chartered Andrew Female Academy, and the older school quickly fell into disuse.


Huntsville Female Academy
Huntsville Female Academy Huntsville Female Academy began as Huntsville Academy, a school that taught both boys and girls. Once Huntsville Male Academy was formed, it became known as Huntsville Female Academy or simply, the Brick Academy. Source: Walker County Treasures. Huntsville, Texas.
Brick Academy Historical Marker
Brick Academy Historical Marker As part of the Sam Houston Bicentennial, this marker was placed outside of the state penitentiarry marking where the Brick Academy was located. Source: Glen Bauer, personal collection.
Map of Early Huntsville
Map of Early Huntsville Huntsville, Texas' founder, Pleasant Gray, donated 5 acres of land for the creation of a school for Huntsville's students. It was given for the nominal fee of one cent. Source: Walker County Treasures. Huntsville, Texas.
Melinda Rankin
Melinda Rankin Melinda Rankin is a famous teacher and principal of the Brick Academy. While in Huntsville, she wrote her book, Texas in 1850. Source: History of Littleton, New Hampshire (1905)
Dr. Samuel McKinney
Dr. Samuel McKinney Dr. Samuel McKinney taught at the Brick Academy. He would later serve as the first president of Austin College and also pastored the Presbyterian Church in Huntsville. Source: Walker County Treasures. Huntsville, Texas.



Allison Baughman, “Huntsville Academy,” East Texas History, accessed June 20, 2024,