• SPC Historical Building

    Bishop Johnston Building Circa 1920s


Join us as we continue a history of achievement!

  • James Steptoe Johnston, a bishop of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church of the West Texas Diocese, founded St. Philip’s Normal and Industrial School, a school designed to educate and train recently emancipated slaves.
  • Opening March 1, 1898, the school began as a weekend sewing class for six black girls, taught by Miss Alice G. Cowan, a missionary with the Episcopal Church.
  • During this period, the institution was known as Bowden's School.
  • Artemisia Bowden, daughter of a former slave, joined the school as administrator and teacher.
  • Miss Bowden served St. Philip’s College for 52 years. Under her leadership, the school grew from an industrial school for girls into a high school and later a junior college.
  • During this period, the institution was known as Bowden's School.
  • The school moved from La Villita to its present location.
  • After several building additions, St. Philip's became a junior college for the black community of San Antonio and the area.
  • During the Great Depression, the Episcopal Church was unable to continue financial support for the school it founded.
  • Bowden, the president of St. Philip’s College, fought to keep the school afloat. Considered the savior of St. Philip's College, she frequently used her own money to pay teachers and to keep the doors open.
  • In a fundraising effort, she traveled around the country with a quartet of singing students soliciting donations for the historically black college.
  • The school, retaining the St. Philip’s Junior College name, affiliated with San Antonio College and the San Antonio Independent School District, marking the end of the college’s era as a private institution.
  • An elected district board of trustees, named the San Antonio Union Junior College District (now Alamo Community College District), assumed administration of the two colleges.
  • St. Philip’s College began admitting white students, and San Antonio College began admitting black students.
  • St. Philip's added the Southwest Campus, a hub for technical training programs and formerly part of Kelly Air Force Base, as an official campus. It had previously served as a district extension center.
  • A multi-million-dollar capital expansion added major buildings; a state-of-the-art theater complex at the MLK campus; the Northeast Learning Center in 1996; and the Learning and Leadership Development Center in 1997 (in collaboration with the City of San Antonio).
  • The Welcome Center, Center for Health Professions, and Center for Learning Resources are now open to welcome students.