Just as the major artery through campus
used to be an unpaved offshoot of Forest Park Boulevard, nearly all of
TCU's byways -- Cockrell, Greene and Rogers, to name a few -- have stories
By Joan Hewatt Swaim '56
my youth, the streets of my TCU neighborhood were paths to destinations,
bicycle byways and, sometimes, a ball court for summer evening games of
kick-the-can. Their names meant little beyond identifying where I and
my friends lived.
house was on Shirley Ave., Jean Barrett's on Cockrell, and Kitty Townsend
lived on Rogers as I did. I walked up Rogers, down Cantey, and crossed
Greene and Cockrell and Waits on my way to McLean Jr. High School (located
where Paschal High is now).
But the street
names didn't mean much to me, then; I wasn't even conscious that I knew
them. Kids don't spend much time chewing on such things. Studying, now,
those same streets in search of times gone by, I realize how closely associated
the TCU neighborhoods have been with the University at their, and my,
core. Cockrell, Greene, and Rogers were paved and, perhaps, named during
the early 1920s.
Up to that
time, the TCU neighborhood—the "hill"—had been outside the city
limits of Fort Worth, connected to the city by a route that led from Forest
Park Boulevard to Eighth Avenue to the streets of downtown. In fact, what
is now the major boulevard that bisects the present campus, our familiar
University Drive, was still a westwardly extension of Forest Park Boulevard
and was so designated.
of TCU history happened thus: TCU history professor, E. R. Cockrell, had
been elected mayor of Fort Worth in 1921, and during his brief tenure,
the TCU hill was incorporated into the city, and the University and the
town had agreed to share the costs of paving streets adjacent to the campus,
and widening and renaming that part of Forest Park Boulevard that ran
in front of the school.
to Dean Colby Hall's history of TCU, the college had experienced financial
difficulties in the years following World War I, and this new obligation
added significantly to that burden. Help came from two gentlemen who owned
considerable property on the hill, and were interested in the development
of the university.
R. L. Rogers,
a real estate man, and Dr. R. M. Greene, whose family owned and lived
on extensive property just east of the campus, proposed to the TCU Board
of Trustees that they use the proceeds from the sale of vacant lots which
they owned to help pay the college's part of the paving. The school approved
of the plan, and Greene and Rogers carried out the proposal, the two covering
over two-thirds of the debt.
support of the university would continue, willing to TCU much of his estate
which included acreage south and east of University Drive to Lubbock Street,
as well as the large brick home he had built on the corner of Princeton
and University Drive which was used by the TCU Speech and Hearing Department
until about 1975.
earlier sold the land on which the library now stands at a bargain price
of $15,000. Dr. Egbert R. Cockrell, after whom Cockrell Ave. is named,
and his wife, Dura Brokaw Cockrell, joined the TCU faculty in 1899 when
the school was still in Waco, he as professor of history, political &
social science, and she as head of the art department. They would serve
in these capacities until 1922, when he became the President of William
Woods College in Fulton, Mo.
two lots and their two-story home on the corner of Cantey and University
was sold to the University Christian Church in 1925. The home, moved diagonally
across University Drive to the southeast corner of Cantey and University,
was used by TCU as a girls' dormitory for a number of years.
Avenue, a short two-and-a-half blocks long, and dead-ending on the south
at Alice Carlson School and on the north at Avondale, was almost certainly
named for T. E. Shirley, an early and tireless supporter of the university.
T. E. was on the university board from 1893-1917, serving as chairman
In his first
year as chair, a motion was made to discontinue the school because of
indebtedness. Shirley refused to honor the motion, which therefore could
not come to a vote, and thereupon dedicated himself full time to raising
money for the college and started the campaign with $1,000 out of his
own pocket. Spelling the name variously as "Sherley" and "Shirley,"
the men and women of this early northeast Texas family have long been
identified with TCU.
Andrew Sherley, was a Board member from 1920-45, as was Andrew's son,
W. M. "Bill" Sherley from 1949 to 1965. And what student from
1927 through 1971 can forget Miss Lorraine Sherley, the feared and revered
grande dame of the English Department?
of the family are honored in the naming of TCU's Sherley Residential Hall.
McPherson Street, one block north of the campus, was named after Chalmers
McPherson, a Waxahachie minister, who was a member of TCU's Board of Trustees
from 1883 to 1903, endowment secretary of the University from 1908-1911,
and taught in Brite College of the Bible from 1915 until his death in
recalls that "Brother Mac devoted his life in love and zeal to his
'boys and girls,' giving them spirit as well as lessons." On his
death, the Chapel in the old Brite Building (now the Bailey Building)
was named the "McPherson Memorial Lecture Room" in his honor.
his extensive theological library was bequeathed to Brite College, becoming
the core of what is now one of the most important collections of theological
literature in America.
Waits, after whom Waits Avenue is named, was president of TCU from 1916
to 1941. At the time of his appointment, he was pastor of the Magnolia
Christian Church in Fort Worth and had been secretary of the TCU Board
of Trustees for five years. He led the school through the Depression years
between 1929 and the mid-'30s, personally knocking on the doors of Fort
Worth's business community to solicit desperately needed funds to keep
the college going and to meet its faculty payroll.
It was during
his time, too, that the school's enrollment rose from 367 students to
over 2,000, and faculty increased from 20 to over 100. Described by all
who knew him as a wise, kind, and gentle man, "Prexy," in the
words of his colleague Colby Hall, "was known for the beauty of his
phraseology and the prolificity of his poetical quotation, but not for
rushing to the termination of a speech."
of his day will recall his slow eloquence and distinctive southern Kentucky
pronunciation as he conducted mandatory three-times-a-week chapel in the
old Ad Building's auditorium. Memorable, too, is his discussion of TCU's
name. After extolling the greatness of Texas and the high purpose of a
university, he explained that the middle word "Christian" gave
dignity and meaning to the other two.
If you live
in one place for any length of time in your youth, you remember the streets
that lead you in and out, and to and from your home. Knowing their names,
and the stories behind them, can help you repossess a piece of the past;
they are proof, in part, of your identity.
me to know that my paths brushed up against the paths of these fine gentlemen
and those of the University they so selflessly served.
Joan Hewatt Swaim is author of Walking
TCU: A Historical Perspective. She retired in 1995 as coordinator of bibliographic
control for the Mary Couts Burnett Library after 18 years of service.
She now lives in Granbury, where she and her 8-year-old grandson Asher
take turns smelling the "sea" on Lake Granbury.