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The Dennis Family Films, no. 1 - Newsome Dougherty Memorial High School

Austin Dennis

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    This home movie from the Dennis Family collection captures a typical day in the classroom at Newsome Dougherty Memorial High School in Gainesville, Texas.

    The Newsome Dougherty Memorial High School building, as shown in the video, was a converted mansion that for years housed not only the local Gainesville public high school, but also the oldest continuously operating junior college in Texas, the North Central Texas College. W.H. and Ella Dougherty had purchased the mansion, the former home of U.S. Senator Joseph W. Bailey, in 1904. The couple donated the mansion and their grounds to the city in 1920 with the understanding that the new facility would be named for their son Isaac Newsome Dougherty, who had recently died during the influenza epidemic.

    In a 1920 city council report, Gainesville city councilman C.M. Buckingham describes learning of the donation: "It was a great day in 1920, a day destined to mean much to the school system of Gainesville ... I was at that time a member of the City Council and had just sat down to my noon day meal, when the phone rang for quite some time. It was W.H. Dougherty calling. He appeared to be excited about something, and said ‘Charlie, come down here as soon as you can: I have something very important to talk to you about.'... Lunch was postponed indefinitely" (Gainesville Daily Register).

    The Gainesville Junior College, now the North Central Texas College, shared facilities and faculty with the high school beginning in 1924 until the building closed in 1959. The mansion was then demolished to make way for a new purpose-built structure on the same site, a new home for the Gainesville High School. A Newsome Dougherty Memorial High School historical marker was dedicated on the site in 2007.