TCU kicks off sesquicentennial observance with week-long celebration

TCU's Mary Couts Burnett Library (Photo courtesy TCU)

From humble beginnings with just over a dozen students 150 years ago, Texas Christian University has grown into one of America’s most renowned universities. TCU will kick off the Fort Worth institution’s sesquicentennial celebration today (Jan. 23) with a week-long slate of activities reflecting the school’s past, present and future.

For starters, visitors can take a historical walking tour with an audio guide featuring various landmarks across the campus. Signs will be posted with QR codes that walkers can scan on their phones and listen to a story of the building or landmark.

Other activities on tap:

Monday – A Sesquicentennial Fine Arts Spectrum, 7 p.m., Van Cliburn Concert Hall in the TCU Music Center, 2900 W. Lowden St. The College of Fine Arts will present a program that celebrates the past, present and future of TCU. Performances will include music, theater and dance, as well as highlights from design, art and fashion merchandising. The Fine Arts Spectrum event is free, but participants need to reserve a ticket in advance. Reserve your free ticket.

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RESCHEDULED: DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER, the 150th Drone Light Display has been rescheduled from Tuesday Jan. 24 to Friday Jan. 27. The display is now set for 7 p.m. Friday at the Campus Commons, 2901 Stadium Dive. In this free event, over 200 drones will be flying over the campus.

Tuesday-Friday – “The Story of Us: A TCU Immersive Experience,” Brown-Lupton University Union, 2901 Stadium Drive. The 7,380 square-foot immersive experience explores TCU’s past, present and future in a digital multimedia experience with historical artifacts and extensive photo opportunities. The event, which is free and open to the public, runs from 6:45-9 p.m. on Tuesday following the drone show, then from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, and from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Friday.

Tuesday-Wednesday – Horned Frogs basketball. The men will host Oklahoma on Tuesday at 7 p.m., followed by the women hosting Iowa State on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. Both games will be played at the Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena, 2900 Stadium Drive. Visit for details and ticket purchase opportunities.

Thursday – TCU Night at the Rodeo, Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo, 7-9 p.m., Dickies Arena, 1911 Montgomery St. Faculty and staff may purchase half price tickets to the rodeo, and anyone wearing TCU branded items will have free access to the Stock Show grounds. Visit FWSSR for details.

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All week –“Go Purple” in downtown Fort Worth and all around the city. Businesses, residents and all Horned Frog fans are encouraged to display purple lights (and, of course, wear purple).

Founded in 1873, TCU is a world-class private university with alumni spanning the globe. TCU consistently ranks among the top universities and colleges in the nation, and the Horned Frog family consists of more than 98,800 living alumni.

According to the university’s archives, TCU’s story began in 1869 when brothers Addison and Randolph Clark, both Fort Worth-based ministers/teachers, had a dream of creating a college where men and women could acquire a classical education and develop character. To avoid launching their dream in what they referred to as “Hell’s Half Acre” because of the cattle industry and upcoming new railroad, they started their college in Thorp Spring, just outside of Granbury.

With an enrollment of just 13 students, they opened the doors of AddRan Male and Female College, one of the first co-ed institutions west of the Mississippi. Within five years, enrollment swelled to 450 students and the Clarks and their spouses sold everything they owned to invest in a larger building. But for the college to continue, an endowment was needed.

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The Clarks forged an affiliation with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to “adopt” their school, giving it a new name and ensuring its future.

AddRan moved to Waco, Texas, in 1895, where a number of traditions began. Football arrived in 1896, followed soon after by women’s sports. In 1897-98, the school’s first yearbook was named “The Horned Frog” and students chose school colors – purple for royalty and white for a clean game.

The name was officially changed to Texas Christian University in 1902, but over the years the school became universally known as TCU. After a fire destroyed the Waco campus in 1910 TCU moved to Fort Worth, where leaders had long wanted a university to help soften the city’s image as a rowdy cowtown. An offer of 50 acres, $200,000 and the promise of streetcar service sealed the deal for the site that became TCU’s permanent home.