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Dallas History

D Magazine’s 50 Greatest Stories: The Hockaday School’s Long History in Dallas

Hockaday is 110 years old, and a lot more than its endowment has changed in those years.
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Ela Hockaday, the founder of her namesake school.

The Hockaday School has been a fixture of Dallas for the last 110 years, ever since a group of wealthy parents brought Miss Ela Hockaday to the city and charged her with starting a college preparatory school for their daughters.

In 1978, the writer Prudence Mackintosh, fresh off teaching at the school, explored its history and place in (what was then) modern Dallas. Miss Hockaday knew how to curry favor in the city: she built a board consisting of the city’s “most powerful civic leaders,” folks like Herbert Marcus, father of Stanley, and the businessman and philanthropist R.W. Higginbotham. In later years, the board would be filled with a mayor (J. Erik Jonsson) and a co-founder of Texas Instruments (Eugene McDermott).

“Most of them had daughters,” Mackintosh wrote.

The school’s first classes took place in a small home on Haskell Avenue on September 25, 1913, with just 10 students. (Hockaday opened just four days after its namesake got to town.) It eventually moved to a campus on the Caruth farm near Greenville and Belmont before finding its longtime home off Forest Lane, in a building designed to resemble the work of architect Mies van der Rohe.

Tuition in 1978 ran $1,075 for pre-kindergarten ($5,300 adjusted for inflation) and $3,205 for a high school senior (which would be $15,800 in 2024). Current tuition is now $32,095 for pre-K and $38,082 for grades 5 and up. Its $160 million endowment is, per Private School Review, the highest in the state. The endowment has grown from $3.5 million when Mackintosh wrote her story.

Things have changed at Hockaday. The boarding program will end in 2025, and students no longer have to wear white dresses to graduation. Mackintosh’s story is also about exploring how the school’s long history had lingered on its campus, which is surely relevant today.

“Why Hockaday Girls Are Different” is one of our 50 greatest stories, and you can read it here.

Author

Matt Goodman

Matt Goodman

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Matt Goodman is the online editorial director for D Magazine. He's written about a surgeon who killed, a man who…

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