The school was started in 1906 largely through the influence of some Alabama Congregational leaders and its first recitation building was named Bates Hall, after Rev. George Bates, then Pastor of Pilgrim Congregational Church, Birmingham, a church which later united with the Independent Presbyterian Church.
The school was named after the town of Thorsby in which it is located. There is no other town in the United States by this name. It is in the center of Alabama and is on the main line of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. A good highway runs through Thorsby with bus connections between Birmingham and Montgomery. The town occupies the highest point of a gravelly plateau, and is surrounded by fruit and vegetable farms interspersed with woods of pine and oak. The location is well drained and free from malaria, and the climate is healthful and moderate both in winter and summer.
Thorsby Institute is a school of high standards of scholarship and ideals. It offers a High School training under cultured Christian teachers of thorough college training and experience. For years it has been on the state accredited list, and since 1923 has been on the accredited list of the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. Its graduates rank high in college, both in scholarship and character. They have made enviable records in Birmingham-Southern College, Howard College, Grinnell College, Iowa, Augustana College, Illinois, Piedmont College, Georgia, Stetson University, Florida and Rice Institute, Texas. Colleges have urged us to send more of our graduates to them, because they say our graduates who have attended their schools, are so dependable and industrious.
The people who visit the school often speak of its neatness and order and of the general Christian atmosphere that surrounds it.
Classes are not large and so pupils get much more personal attention. There are always older pupils here who for one reason or another did not have the opportunity when younger which they should have had.
The school is primarily for young people from small towns and the rural districts. The charges are low and students have a chance to earn a part of their way through school. The cost of maintaining the school is largely met by donations from friends of education. The fact that the charges are low does not mean that the work required is of low grade. High grade work is demanded. While we are not indifferent to the social life of our pupils, we put the emphasis rather on the scholastic.
During the twenty-two years of its existence Thorsby Institute has had five Principals: W. J. Lampke, Brown University; S. B. Groves, Wooster University; N. W. Henson, Peabody College; S. II. Herbert, Beloit College, Chicago Theological Seminary and Helen C. Jenkins, A. B., Mount Holyoke College, A. M., Syracuse University.
The Institute has five buildings—Helen Jenkins Hall, Dining Hall, Campus Cottage for girls, two Cottages for boys.
Helen Jenkins Hall, named for the Principal, is a new, modern, one-story building of concrete blocks, stucco finish. It contains a large auditorium, the Principal's office, Music Studio, Library, Laboratory, Typewriting room, and several commodious class-rooms.
The Dining Hall, also stucco finish, is not far from Helen Jenkins Hall. It contains a large, attractive dining-room and kitchen and several rooms for girls and teachers.
The Campus Cottage is near the Dining-IIall and is used as a home for girls and teachers.
These three buildings are beautifully located at the highest point of a tract of rolling; land comprising about eleven acres. On this campus are located the grounds for athletic games, Base-ball, Basket-ball, Volley-ball and Tennis.
The two cottages for boys stand on a high knoll about 1200 feet west of Helen Jenkins Hall.
1. "The Founding of Thorsby Institute," and "Twenty-Three Years of Character and Scholarship Building," Thorsby Institute Bulletin, Series 19, Number 5, June, 1929, pages 6-9.