Pass Christian Historical Society
"Pass Christian… where the climate, people and surroundings are all delightful." — Theodore Roosevelt

June 2018 Newsletter History

New Orleans Times, Sunday, July ??, 1868
A Visit to Pass Christian College

To the Editor of the N. O. Times—
Having had the pleasure of spending a couple of days this week at this now famous establishment under the direction of the Christian Brothers, I think an account of my visit may interest your readers, many of whose sons are studying there; and it may also be acceptable to the general public to know the real merits of a college in their immediate vicinity, which justly claims their patronage.

Having no further interest in the matter than that of any visitor; feeling deeply sensible of the benefits of a complete thorough, and practical education, and also the fruitful results of the same, in private as well as in public life, I will not be suspected of a partial coloring to any facts I may record, which, therefore, may be taken as a simple statement of unvarnished truth.

Approach By Steamer
I had seen a picture of this establishment, but thought in itself handsome, and giving a very fair outline of the general appearance, does not come up to the beautiful standard of the reality. The day was bright and sunny as the steamer Laura, after a delightful run of 6 or 7 hours, approached the Pass.

The most conspicuous object to attract the eye was the cupola, surmounted by the cross over the front building of the College.

A Wharf of near 1,000 feet, with a bathing house at the end, stretching far out in the bay, firmly and neatly built, runs up in front of the college.

The bathing house is divided off into some 50 or 60 compartments for the use of pupils and professors. The whole affair was built regardless of expense for the comfort, health and safety of the students.

The appearance of the college taken as a whole from the road is most beautiful. The light and elegant front, with its useful and ornamental clock is immediately under the graceful cupola, runs 150 feet to meet the flanking wings, one of which is allotted for classes. [The other] for the special use of the Brothers.

Between the wings, the grounds are cut off into grass plots, where the flowery lilac shrubs [More likely a crepe myrtle?— STINSON], in full bloom, and various evergreens lend a delightful charm to the scene.

Brother Isaiah, Director and Visitor, to whose wise forethought and sound judgment the Order owes the selection of this beautiful spot for science and religion, received your correspondent with his usual well known urbanity. We were ushered into a very spacious parlor of unusual size, and of very imposing style, sufficient in every way for holding of an exhibition.

From this you enter into a Chapel, large enough to accommodate the entire household.

The Dormitories are apart from the house, across grounds entirely sheltered by densely planted shade trees, offering a delightful retreat for the students to exercise in untouched by a single ray from the scorching sun.

The house containing the dormitories is 300 feet long and two stories high. One dormitory runs the whole length of the building, containing 100 beds, and giving ample space between each bed.

The other on the ground floor is divided, giving one-half to beds, the other is arranged as a wash room, all necessaries being there provided amply for the same. [I take this to be the same building at the “Texas” gallery on the west side of the main building.—Stinson]

The garden is well worth a visit, and no one should ever leave without seeing it. It is under the constant and skillful care of a French Brother, who graduated in France in an agricultural college.

This garden consist of several acres running to a depth of 40 and contains besides all our Southern fruits, reared with the most skillful hands, several rare exotics brought from Europe.

We were there regaled with luscious peaches and grapes, and saw most wonderful sights in the art of grafting. They had a sufficient supply for the house of strawberries from early March.

Altogether, the garden is a wonder of itself, and well worth a visit to itself alone from the Crescent City by all lovers of botany. A hothouse is just finished and will soon be in full operation.

Seashore Location
Our tour of inspection for the day being closed, we sauntered out with the Brothers to enjoy the evening breezes that blew so refreshingly over the bay, and took our course to the bathing house, fully satisfied that a more delightful spot, considering all the surroundings for the locations of a college could not be found in the country.

Having satisfied ourselves of the beauty and salubrity of the place, we next turned our attention to the mental adaptabilities of the college and its claims to patronage and distinction as an educational establishment.

Study Courses
We found the studies divided between the Collegiate, Commercial and Preparatory departments, comprising six classes.

The professors number eighteen Brothers, plus about ten gentlemen unconnected with the Order.

We commenced to examine each a class, from the lowest upwards, and in justice to all concerned must candidly confess we were most agreeable [not?] disappointed, much as we had previously known and heard of the successful system of teaching adopted by the Christian Brothers.

Small Boys
The small boys were at their writing when we entered their classroom, seated on elegantly finished chairs fixed to the floor and at desk of the latest improved pattern, imported specially for their combining elegance with utility.

The writing of this class, in all essential and accidental qualities of uniformity, style and neatness, we hesitate not to say, cannot be surpassed by pupils of their age in any part of the country. As a proof of this as well as of anything else advanced here, in favor of the house or students, we would beg to refer to visitor and parents themselves, who will visit the college during the examination and exhibition to be held this month, to an investigation for themselves.

Subjects Taught
We examined all the classes in order. In arithmetic, algebra, English grammar, book-keeping by double entry; in every branch of which there was a thorough knowledge manifested which could only follow from a perfect system of teaching on principles, not by rote or from memory.

In Latin, from the grammar to Ovid, Virgil, Salluet, etc.; in Greek from the grammar up to Homer, we examined the boys with the same happy results. In French, too, there was no falling off.

Having taken all the pupils by surprise and with the determination to sift them thoroughly, we left off at the close of the day with the conviction that a more able, practical and accomplished corps of teachers could scarcely be found than the present faculty of the College of Pass Christian.

Our visit being entirely unexpected, we took all by surprise, and examined just as one pleased, without any view to please anybody but ourselves, and thus no collusion between the examiner and teacher could take place.

Commerce to Philosophy
We would call the especial attention of business men to the sets of books prepared, not for show, but for their daily work in the Commercial department. In neatness, commercial writing, and general appearance, they cannot be excelled in any city.

Natural and experimental Philosophy is taught by an able teacher, and there is a fine apparatus for all experimental purposes. This class constitutes the pride of the professor, who naturally takes credit to himself for the success of his labors.

College Brass Band
The crowing glory of all the students is the College brass Band, made up of 20 of the pupils. The music discoursed by these amateurs for musical honors is heard with delightful effect, when the Band, from beneath the cupola, send the swelling notes reverberating through the pine groves and wafted over the bay, wakes up the delighted denizens of Pass Christian to the sweet reveries of music’s soothing charms.

Those who have heard the juvenile band of St. Mary’s, in the city, can form some idea of the proficiency of the Pass Christian Band, when we inform them that the latter are older practitioners, and consist of the senior students.

The clock is French made, and has already cost $1200, sending the time on 18[?] different faces to the most remote parts of the college. It is calculated that when finished to cost full $2,000.

The Library is a large spacious apartment furnished with elegantly finished book cases running round the entire room.

It does not contain at present a very large number of volumes, but what there is are select and standard works.

In this room are held the meetings of the Irving Debating Society, which gives annually several public debates. It is, we understand, in a flourishing condition.

Student Body
The students for the year have numbered over 140, notwithstanding the stringency of the times. These students are from many States, and of all religious beliefs. They are gentlemanly and refined in their manners, and though full of life and fun in time of recreation we saw not a single evidence of rowdyism among them.

The Refectory is large and spacious, capable of seating over 200, and there is room for still further enlargement when necessary.

The boarding is considered quite satisfactory to those most interested, and by many is unsurpassed in any college, both in quantity and quality. This I have from disinterested parties, as well as from my own observation.

The kitchen is fully large enough to cook for an army. It is neat, scrupulously clean, lofty and well ventilated.

There is a large Infirmary, well kept, but of very little use, as not sickness troubles the healthy current of young life here. The water is in abundance—both cistern and well—the latter is clear and pure as crystal.

The playgrounds are varied—sometimes the shady enclosures of the college, at other times the greensward, and the cool shades of the piney woods in the rear.

Those who wish to visit the Pass Christian College during the Examinations on the 21st, 22nd, 23rd, and 24th of this month can verify the truth of our statements.

VIATOR—Transcribed by M. James Stevens