The Highland Home College was established, originally as Highland Home Institute, in 1881 by three individuals, Justus “Mack” Barnes, Col. M. L. Kirkpatrick and Samuel Jordan. J. M. Barnes established a school at Strata, the Strata Academy, on September 8, 1856, as a one-teacher school. The school was so successful that it did not remain a one-teacher school for long. It is not known how the school fared during the War between the states but was no doubt interrupted during this period. In 1872, Samuel Jordan, a brother-in-law of Barnes, became a co-proprietor and teacher. In 1879 another brother-in-law of Barnes, Col. M. L. Kirkpatrick joined the two. There were glowing reports in the newspaper, the Montgomery Advertiser and Mail of the success and high standing of the Strata Academy.
During the years 1879, 1880 and 1881, illness became a serious problem at Strata, typhoid fever and “yellow chills” caused three deaths. It was decided by the three men to move the school to a different location. Several areas were considered, among them – Montgomery, Snowdoun and Verbena. It was finally decided to move the school about six miles south, just beyond Rocky Mount, Alabama, about a mile into Crenshaw County.
There they built a large school building and homes for the three men, large enough to accommodate boarding students. The Montgomery Daily Advertiser on September 25 1881 reported: New dwellings and store houses are springing up all around us. Messrs. Barnes, Jordan and Kirkpatrick are each erecting large and handsome new dwellings. They are expecting a great many boarders during the next term of school which will commence on Monday November 14 1881. The Highland Home Institute which they are building will be an ornament to our town as well as the county, being more than twice as large as any building in it.
In one article by E. R. Barnes (son of J. M. Barnes ) the building was described: “It was a two-story frame building, 100 feet long by 50 feet wide. The lower story was divided into four recitation rooms, each spacious, and into smaller rooms for books and apparatus, the entire upper floor was one large auditorium, unbroken by post or other obstruction. A grand hall for concerts or for Christmas celebrations! But it was by no means reserved for such occasional use. Every minute of every school day it was a busy place. ”Other sources indicate that the hall was heated by three large stoves placed down the center of the building with stove pipes resembling huge canes. Long tables were provided at which students sat in straw-bottomed chairs, with about ten students to the table.
Blackboards, slates, pencils and pads were all the equipment. Two buckets of water and a dipper in each were placed at the head of the two stairways, one for the boys and one for the girls. It is reported that there was a great deal of resentment against the three proprietors of the school by some of the “rowdies: in the community. This resentment became stronger when Barnes was successful in getting a law passed to prohibit the sale of liquor within five miles of the school. It appears that Barnes was especially targeted for mistreatment. His out-houses were overturned at night and the servants chased and abused.
Highland Home was chosen by the three schoolmen as the name for the new village. The Advertiser reported: “It is a beautiful name and appropriately given to the pleasant village in Crenshaw County. From Montgomery, over the dirt road, the distance is thirty-one miles, and it is reached by the Alabama Midland railroad, being about one and half miles from LaPine on the Luverne branch. From the high point there is a magnificent view, stretching for many miles over the peaceful hills and lovely valleys. It is the ideal place for an institution where pupils can be free from the attractions that in large towns and cities interfere so much with continued and successful study. . . ”
The school operated as Highland Home Institute through its eighth session. 1888-1889. In February 1889 the school was incorporated under the name of Highland Home College by J. M. Barnes, Samuel and M. L. Kirkpatrick.
The present Highland Home area was known as Rocky Mount in early days when the area was still a part of Lowndes County. There was a post office known as Rocky Mount in another part of the state, the post office at this location was called Argus. The school was able to get the U. S. Post Office Dept. to change the name to Highland Home in keeping with the name they had given to their institution. This is how Highland Home was born.
By the session of 1913-1914 only 108 students were enrolled. The last commencement exercises were held in the spring of 1915. The property of the college was sold to the State of Alabama in June 1916, and it became a high school known as Crenshaw County High School.
Col. M. L. Kirkpatrick died Feb 28 1892 and is buried in the Fair Prospect Cemetery, north of Highland Home, as Samuel Jordan died Aug 27 1933. J. M. Barnes died April 28 1913 as a result of an automobile accident and is buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Montgomery Ala.
Provided file /var/www/html/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/15-Highland-Home-College-2016-10-06.csv does not exist!
The Highland Home College historical marker states:
A pioneer institution organized in 1889 by Justus M. Barnes, Samuel Jordan and Milton L. Kirkpatrick. This was an extension of the Strata Academy, founded in 1856 by Barnes six miles north of Strata. In 1881 Strata Academy was moved to Highland Home and the name changed to Highland Home Institute.
From its incorporation, the school was coeducational. It brought culture to frontier Alabama – music, foreign languages, science, literature, and drama as well as “the Three R’s.” Although never a religious institution, Bible courses were offered. Its graduates provided the State many distinguished citizens.
When the economics of competing with state normal schools forced it to close its doors forever in 1915, it had served Alabama continuously for 59 years. The trustees deeded this property to the State of Alabama in 1916 for educational use.