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After the Civil War, there was a need for higher education on the college level in southwest Missouri and for several years Carthage vied with Springfield for the honor of acquiring a college. Carthage eventually lost out to Springfield when Drury College (now Drury University) was established in 1873. Rev. Dr. W. S. Knight, a local Presbyterian minister, continued the campaign for a college in Carthage and within the Presbyterian hierarchy. With local financial support, the Carthage Collegiate Institute (CCI) was founded. The first classroom location was an annex built onto the First Presbyterian Church then located at the southeast corner of Grant and 7th Streets. The formal opening was September 17, 1886, and tuition ranged from $10.00 to $18.00 per term. Shortly after opening the college, the CCI Board of Trustees purchased land in the 1400 block of Main Street (this site) and a brick edifice was built for the cost of $20,000 and was opened for use in 1888. The massive brick and limestone stone building was designed by St. Louis architect J. B. Legg who also designed at least one residence in Carthage -- the Cowgill Home at 1155 Grand Avenue. The structure was constructed by local contractor George Wood.

  • Carthage Collegiate Institute's main building started in 1887 and completed in 1888.
  • 1905 Advertisement for Carthage Collegiate Institute
  • Digitization part of Carthage's 175th Anniversary, Powers Museum, March 28 2017 - March 21, 2018. i
  • Project courtesy of Missouri Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities

The college offered high school and junior college level experiences. Operations continued until 1908 when low attendance and funding issues forced the closing of the college. The building served as an apartment building when it was acquired by the Carthage School Board which used some of the classrooms for overcrowding relief within the larger school system for a short period. Eventually the structure was razed and Mark Twain Elementary School was built on the former college site. Mark Twain Elementary still occupies the site today (see Clio entry for Mark Twain Elementary School, 1435 South Main Street).

Among CCI's notable graduates were journalist and author Leigh Mitchell Hodges and astronomer and author Harlow Shapley. Marian Lucy Wright, who would go on to marry Dr. Powers in 1903, graduated from CCI in 1900. The Powers Museum, a local history museum for the city, is named for her and her husband (see Clio entries Powers Museum and Powers Home).


Hansford, Michele Newton. Images of America: Carthage Missouri. Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 2000.

Powers Museum Vertical Files: Carthage Collegiate Institute, Harlow Shapley, Leigh Mitchell Hodges

Image Sources(Click to expand)

College image former Powers Museum exhibit image, c 1895-1900

Advertisement from Carthage Evening Press, August 21, 1905