Founder’s Day: Celebrating 127 Years of North Texas

As you may know, the University of North Texas was founded as the Texas Normal College and Teachers Training Institute in 1890. It all started with this man…

Recognize him? Probably not. But you should. Although his name only comes up once a year on Founder’s Day, you already know it from one of the buildings on campus.

His name was Joshua Crittenden Chilton. This photo of him was taken somewhere between 1890 to 1893. Chilton passed away in 1893 and the school was handed down to another familiar name around campus, John Jackson Crumley.

When Chilton founded Texas Normal College, it began as a private teachers college and music conservatory. Originally, the school was housed in a leased facility above a hardware store off of the Denton square. Fun facts to bore your friends with!

The first building was built in 1891, on the corner of Avenue B and Hickory (so probably where modern day Hickory Hall is…you know, across the street from the Jack In the Box…times have changed.) It was called the Normal Building.

Creepy, right? That looks like something straight out of a horror movie. This photo was taken in 1896. The tower was home to the curfew bell, which rang at the start of the day and when students had to return to their boarding houses. Another fun fact to bore your friends with: the building burned down in 1907 when it was struck by lightning.

Through seven name changes and endless construction, the University of North Texas has done nothing but grow and improve. We came from humble beginnings, but our scrappy spirit has gotten us to where we are today.

Speaking of Scrappy! This photo was taken in 1979. Look at him go!

In all seriousness, let’s remember Chilton’s words about this school:

“It will be our aim to become leaders in the education of the young men and women of Texas, fitting them to creditably fill the most important positions in business and professional circles. We desire the cooperation of all who believe in higher education and who want to see our state in the very front of intellectual as well as material progress.”

And here’s another pretty cool picture, taken in 1942.

Built in 1939 and named after our founding president, Chilton Hall is home to two computer labs, the media library, six departments, and many different classes. Next time you’re in there, remember this stuff. We’ve come a long way.

Happy 127th birthday, North Texas.

(Photos all courtesy of the UNT Libraries Special Collections.)