Friday, March 25, 2011

Hardin College and Conservatory of Music

Hardin College (1858-1931)
Hardin College and Conservatory of Music

Location: 1200 College Place, Mexico, Missouri, USA

Founded: 1858 as Audrain County Female Seminary, 1873 as Hardin College

Closed: 1931

Hardin College and Conservatory of Music--often referred to as Hardin College--was a women's college and conservatory in addition to being the first junior college in the state of Missouri. The school was associated with the Missionary Baptist Church of Missouri.

The institution was renamed in 1873 for Charles Henry Hardin, later Governor of Missouri. John W. Million was president in 1900 and previous presidents were A. W. Terrill, Mrs. H. T. Baird, and A. K. Yancy. Oscar B. Smith was president from 1930 until Hardin closed in 1931, a victim of the Great Depression.

Along with seven other women's colleges in Missouri – Stephens, Christian, Lindenwood, Cottey, Howard Payne, William Woods, and Central Female College– Hardin was one of the original members of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for two-year colleges and program. It was designated as Alpha Chapter in 1918, though the chapter was later moved to Stephens when Hardin developed Bachelor's degree programs.

An 1899 ad in the Kansas City Journal boasted that the "Hardin College and Conservatory of Music for Ladies" had a "literary course in the hands of university alumni" and an art department that was "unexcelled." The conservatory, it was noted, was "presided over by SCHARWENKA, OF BERLIN." This last reference was to Xaver Scharwenka (1850-1924), the noted German-Polish pianist and composer.

In 1914, Rose Tont described the Hardin conservatory as having seven teachers, with courses in "piano, voice, violin, organ, sight singing, ear training, public school music, harmony and musical history." It also offered post graduate work in "counterpoint, canon, and fugue."

The college's 1200 seat auditorium, Presser Hall, has been restored and is now used for community theater and concerts. The former Richardson Hall houses the Mexico Public Schools administrative offices.

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