Marker [027]
Site Of Campus Of Old Columbia College
(203 S. College, Van Alstyne)


In 1889 an association composed of merchants and landowners from the Van Alstyne area saw the need for quality education and established Columbia College. The school served all grades through college level, emphasizing vocational training as well as the arts and sciences. The institution was housed in a three-story frame structure on this four-acre fenced site. There were 40 students in the first class and the enrollment increased to 578 by the 1893-1894 school year Students from a large section of North Texas studied at this coeducational institution.

Howell Lake Piner (1858-1935) served from 1890-1895 as the school's first president. He was born in Kentucky, reared in Honey Grove, Texas, and received his education at Vanderbilt University. After selling his interest in Grayson College, Whitewright, Texas, Piner came to Columbia and skillfully directed the development of the institution.

As the area grew, Van Alstyne residents recognized the need for a community high school. Columbia College became part of the Van Alstyne public school system in 1906. The college building continued to serve the schools until 1915 when it was destroyed by fire.