Home to dormitories, academic buildings, recreation facilities, and the President’s House, West Campus is a bustling hub of university life and activity. However, some may be surprised to know that West Campus was not always part of Texas State University but instead first served as the San Marcos Baptist Academy's original campus.
San Marcos Baptist Academy was founded in 1907 through the joint effort of the Southwest Baptist Conference and the citizens of San Marcos. The Southwest Baptist Conference wished to establish a Baptist institution in this area of the state and thus contributed $25,000 to the school’s creation. The residents of San Marcos matched the donation and offered 57 acres to the school. Construction soon began, and on September, 24, 1908, San Marcos Baptist Academy opened its doors. The academy initially taught students grades 6-12 and incorporated military training into its curriculum after World War I.
Much like Texas State University’s beginning, San Marcos Baptist Academy opened with just one main building, Carroll Hall. Named after the academy’s first president, J.M. Carroll, the three-story building housed offices, classrooms, a chapel, a gymnasium, and dorm rooms. Connections between the academy and Texas State University have always been strong, with numerous students and faculty spending time at both institutions; most notably, Texas State University’s first president, Thomas G. Harris, served as the academy’s second president from 1911 until his retirement in 1915.
In the 1970s, President Lee H. Smith and the Baptist Academy’s president, Jack Byrom, began discussing the university’s purchase of the academy’s property. At the time, Texas State University was one of the most crowded campuses in the state. Both schools greatly needed additional space to accommodate their growing student populations, and they both benefitted from the agreement. The sale allowed the university to create a larger yet unified campus with more facilities to better serve its needs. And in the words of Dr. Byrom, San Marcos Baptist Academy was presented with the unique opportunity to create a new campus “tailored to the programs and needs of the school.”
After nearly four years of negotiations, the deal was finalized on June 19, 1979, with the university paying $11.25 million for 78.5 acres of land and eighteen buildings. This purchase marked Texas State University’s largest single property acquisition in its history. The transition took place over three years while the academy constructed its new campus on two hundred acres near Ranch Road 12. By 1981, the university had assumed full control of the property and renamed it West Campus.
Some of the original buildings acquired in the 1979 purchase are still in use today. The Family and Consumer Sciences building, the Child Development Center, and Bexar Hall all initially served the academy. The University's President’s House is the same house inhabited by the Academy’s presidents, thus symbolizing the area's continued dedication to high-quality education.