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Early Private Schools
Thomas Staughton Savage — The Educator
Trinity Female Seminary of Pass Christian
In reading and interpreting Deed Book property transactions, there is much relevant information to be gleaned. Hindered by a lack of supporting facts, the researcher's comments are shown in italics. Property descriptions indicating the ½ section line of Sec. 25 and 26 would be approximately at Josephine Street as the northern boundary described in some transactions.
On 5-16-1851, for $2,180, Dr. Thomas Savage purchased from Theodore and Amilie Grego, Lot #109 measuring a 150' frontage along the Gulf by a depth to the ½ Section Line of Section 25. Due to the stated sale amount, it is almost certain that there was a house already existing on the Gulf front property which was located off Henderson Avenue near the Trinity Episcopal Church.
On 2-16-1852, for $1100, Dr. Thomas Savage purchased from John Henderson, two lots located 500 yards west of the lighthouse and adjoining the Savage residence lot on the west. One lot measured a 134' frontage on the Gulf by a depth to the ½ mile section line. A second lot measured a 58' frontage on the Gulf by a depth to the ½ mile section line. Because the latter lot was denoted as the “School Street Lot,” it is presumed that Dr. Savage had previously negotiated a lease on the property and had already started a school there.
During the period from 1853 to 1857, the Trinity Female Seminary was very profitable since not only had Dr. Savage completed the construction of the school buildings, but paid off his mortgages and engaged in new land acquisitions.
In 1856, there was another private school with 50 cadets. It was known as the Green Academy headed by Rev. John S Green and Ashbel Green, an attorney from Philadelphia, whose father was President of Princeton University.
On 7-1-1858, for $400, Thomas Savage purchased from Nicholas and Arabella Linnott, a 193' lot fronting on St. Louis Avenue running north to ½ Sec line consisting of approximately 20 square arpents which were formerly part of the John Edgerton property. This is the current quadrant at the northeast corner of Henderson and St. Louis avenues adjoining Live Oak Cemetery.
On 10-16-1857, for $5000, Thomas Savage purchased from Harriet Brown, a 180' Gulf front lot located approximately one mile West of Lighthouse. The cost indicates that there was a fine home already existing at this site which presumably became the new Savage family residence.
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The next period of time seems to indicate that Dr. Savage was planning on leaving the Gulf Coast, presumably because of the impending Civil War. However, there are indications that he had actually left the Gulf Coast during or prior to the Civil War and returned afterward. His success with the Female Seminary was evident and for several years, he had left the position of Rector of Trinity Church as was indicated in the 1861 Episcopal State Convention reporting by Rev. G.W. Sill as Trinity's Rector. It is also conceivable that Rev. John E.C. Smedes, having been a partner of Dr. Savage for a number of years, had also served as Rector during some time period.
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On 3-17-1860, Dr. Tom Savage sold for $6000 to E.H. Summers, the above described180' Gulf lot with residence. The increase in selling price indicates that significant renovations had been made to the property.
On 8-9-1860, Dr. Savage sold for $7000 to Robert Boyd, the original Savage Residence lot measuring140' frontage on the Gulf which adjoined Trinity Female Seminary of Pass Christian on the east.
On 12-24-1860, Dr. Savage sold for $1000 to Henry Giese, the remaining property in the quadrant located on St Louis Avenue measuring 475' wide at its north end. This property was located at the northwest corner of Henderson and St. Louis avenues adjoining Live Oak Cemetery.
On 11-5-1860, Dr. Savage for $25,000 sold to Reuel Keith, the Trinity Female Seminary of Pass Christian consisting of: 1) 110' Gulf Lot and buildings; and 2) a lot, 183' front on St Louis Ave., and 3) the school Inventory consisting of furniture, fixtures and supplies.
On 6-12-1861, Robert and Clara Boyd sold for $2200 to Dr. Savage the Gulf lot known as the Savage residence situated east of the Female Seminary. The Boyds originally paid $7000 for this property. It seems evident that the $2200 amount of this sale was the default balance amount not paid by the Boyds.
The effect of the Civil War is shown by the return sale of the Seminary that Dr. Savage may have been obligated to. He appears to have repurchased the properties with exacting compensation.
On 12-9-1861, Dr. Savage for $25,000, repurchased from Reuel Keith, then of Mobile, AL, the Trinity Female Seminary of Pass Christian consisting of: 1) 110' Gulf Lot and buildings, 2) 183' front on St Louis Avenue, 3) Inventory consisting of furniture, fixtures and supplies.
Dr. Savage continued to show his administrative capabilities in successfully operating the boarding school for girls following the cessation of the Civil War. In addition, he went about some expansions to other areas in Pass Christian.
For $3500, on May 9, 1866, Dr. Savage purchased from Jean Manuel & Marie Rose Fleitas a one arpent (196') Gulf Lot by 40 arpents deep (approximately 1½-miles deep to Bayou Portage)
A Second Savage School — Trinity High School
Located on Davis and Beach streets – before being sold as the site for the Mexican Gulf Hotel.
This property became a second school created by Dr. Savage, where he evidently tried to recover his losses from the first school that had been located near the Trinity Church grounds at Henderson Avenue. The purchase price was evidently a depressed amount following the Civil War, particularly since it contained substantial buildings that had been constructed by the Cucullu and Fleitas families. The highschool was located at the site that later became the Mexican Gulf Hotel on Davis and Beach Boulevard.
On 8-16-1867, Dr. Savage sold the new Trinity High School for $18,500, to Rev. William C. Phillips and Mrs. Marie Louise Caldwell, both having been active with Trinity Church. Included in the sale were buildings and furniture. After a year-and-a-half, Rev. Phillips conveyed his half interest to Mrs. Caldwell, resulting in her leasing Trinity High School to William Cameron and E. Lee Blanton. However, she continued to maintain her residence on part of the property and gradually sold off lot portions during the ensuing years.
On 7-31-1866, Dr. Savage for $5000 sold to Rev John E.C. Smedes of Clinton, Louisiana, a half-interest in Trinity Female Seminary of Pass Christian, evidently in his preparation to leave to New York.
On 8-1-1871, Dr. Savage, having left the Gulf Coast in 1867 for Rhinecliff, New York, sold for $2500 down and two notes payable of $2038 each, to E Lee Blanton, his half interest in the lots and buildings known as Trinity Seminary, the remaining half was still owned by Rev. John E.C. Smedes. Blanton may have taken over the management of the Seminary.
On 7-28-1873, Dr. Savage repurchased his half-interest in Trinity Seminary from E Lee and Annie Blanton.
On 3-26-1884, Rev. John E.C. Smedes, then of Raleigh, NC, for $2500, sold to George Brandt, his half interest in the Trinity Seminary. Brandt, besides being a successful businessman, was a leader in the Episcopal Church.
On 9-23-1885, Dr. Savage's wife, Elizabeth Rutherford Savage leased her half interest in the Trinity Female Seminary to Rev. Mr. Henry Mayer, Rector of Trinity Church. The lease was $800 annually for five years. Evidently, having sufficient successes, Dr. Meyer acquired the burned site of the former Pass Christian Hotel in 1886, and began construction on several buildings for an elite girl’s school, which he called the Pass Christian Institute. However, this school was also destined to failure. On December 1, 1894, a group of hoteliers remodeled the campus buildings constituting 40 apartments centered on ten acres and named it the New Magnolia Hotel.
Another educational attempt was made in the 1950's by Rev. Douglas MacLauren who opened Kebel College at Henderson’s Point. The site was the former Inn-by-the-Sea hotel which had been used as a Merchant Marine Academy during World War II. MacLauren’s Kebel College was another unfortunate attempt, but such failures since Rev. Dr. Savage, have been overshadowed by the successes of Coast Episcopal School, which opened on Espy Avenue in 1972 — but only after first having been disappointed when Hurricane Camille ravished its newly purchased mansion estate in the 700 block of West Beach Boulevard.
Severing Family Ties to the Pass
On 4-23-1904, Rev. Thomas R. Savage, son of Thomas and Elizabeth Savage (both deceased), sold for $500 to Josephine Brandt, wife of George Brandt, the estate's half interest in the last remnant of property purchased by Dr. Thomas S. Savage.
Thirteen years before, in 1891, Elizabeth Savage and George Brandt had sold their interests in the Trinity Female Seminary of Pass Christian to Louisiana State Supreme Court Justice Lynne B. Watkins. He converted the Seminary into a prominent hotel known as the Lynne Castle, which later burned down in 1915.
Educational Facilities during the 1870s
Pass Christian was an educational Mecca as indicated by the early successes of the Christian Brothers opening of the Pass Christian College in 1866, having an enrollment of 154 male boarding students in 1870. That same year, the Sisters of Mercy began their first class for girls, called the Sister’s School.
Trinity High School had 47 Male student boarders.
Rev. William C. Phillips, former partner with Mrs. Caldwell, opened the St. John’s school and had 29 male boarders.
Julia Richard and Katie Monroe operated the Pass Christian Institute with 8 female boarders.
Katie Desrayaux was proprietor for the Lady’s Academy with 5 female boarders.
The schools were also dependent on the local community for supplementing student enrollments.