Campus reflects on BHC past

By Carmina Tiscareño

New Media Editor

Illustration by Sophia Espinosa
Illustration by Sophia Espinosa


A room in the L Building stores event flyers, T-shirts and old carpet from the campus dating back 35 years. Brookhaven College Executive Dean Sarah A. Ferguson wades through the items and stumbles across a poster that reads: “Brookhaven College opens fall 1978.” She opens a drawer and finds five laminated posters that list all the courses offered when the campus first opened. One poster included an aerial map of the campus and a map of Dallas, showing how to locate Brookhaven. Another poster had the registration form on it.

The land where Brookhaven College sits was occupied by stables 40 years ago. Before that, the land belonged to Noah Good. Good heard about the land available in Texas, and in 1846, he and his family left their Tennessee home bound for Texas, according to an April 1981 Courier article written by Andy Neiman. Neiman said Marsh Lane was named after one of Good’s neighbors, Harrison Marsh. He said some businessmen wanted to change the city name of Farmers Branch to Brookhaven because it gave the com- munity more class. Neiman said Good’s granddaughter, Bertie Good Neoll, and her husband bought the remaining land that formerly belonged to Good from other heirs.  In 1970, Neoll’s sons, Leslie and Milton, sold the land to developers.

Former Brookhaven student and Dallas Morning News staff writer Joy Tipping remembers riding horses on land that used to be stables in 1972. She said the area was a huge riding facility. She spent thousands of hours on the land with the horses. Tipping said the area where the school library sits used to be the arena where she competed in barrel racing events. Every time Tipping sets foot in the library, she said she thinks about the arena. When the land was bought to create a com- munity college, Tipping said she felt sad because the stable felt like home to her. Tipping watched as Brookhaven was created during her junior high and high school years. She recalls the college having a few buildings and a big courtyard when she was a student.

Ferguson has been working on campus since the school opened in August 1978. She said the library was not completely finished at the time. Ferguson said there are 13 people still at Brookhaven from the original staff at the opening of the college. “When Brookhaven first opened, there were no H, J, P, S, X and W Buildings,” she said. Ferguson said that during this time, the center courtyard seemed very sparse because there were not as many trees on campus. Ferguson said at the original campus, offices were in trailers. Later, the offices were moved to what is now the Health Center.

The property had a windmill in the center of campus that could be seen from Interstate Highway 635. The iconic structure symbolized the intent of the school’s founders.  “[The] focus of the windmill was connecting the future to our past … the sense of connecting the old with the new,” Ferguson said.

The windmill was designed in Germany to power the fountains on campus and has a history of its own. Ferguson said the wind- mill sat incomplete for an extended period of time after the blades were damaged in transit. The blades were damaged first in Houston and then in Dallas, when the truck carrying the blades got in a wreck.

Finally, after getting an undamaged set of blades to campus, another unfortunate situation developed. Ferguson said the weight of the blades had been miscalculated. “The windmill never worked efficiently in the sense of being able to power the fountains on campus,” Ferguson said.

On a Sunday during high winds, the blades of the windmill spun out of control. A blade flew off, and Ferguson said the windmill stopped being a priority for the campus administration. After the incident, the windmill sat bladeless again for a few years. Ferguson said that around 1985, the windmill was finally disconnected and dis- assembled. Ferguson said Brookhaven was ahead of its time by trying to use wind to power things. “It’s unfortunate that it was not a working piece of sculpture, and that we lost our symbol that’s throughout our campus and our logos,” she said. In place of the windmill, a fountain was built in the Commons Courtyard.

The first student enrolled, Donna Kemp, said she looks fondly on her time at Brookhaven. “When I found out that I was actually the first student, I knew that had to be my path,” she said. “I feel very confident that I made the right decision.” In 1979, Brookhaven had its first 13 graduates. Ferguson said in 1990, Brookhaven offered a nursing program separate from El Centro College. Ferguson said during renovations in 1995, the library was expanded. She said the location of the cafeteria was moved to the S Building. There were four parking lots, East 1, East 2, W 1 and W 2.

Ferguson also said, as she laughed, “It would be fun to have a windmill on cam- pus again.” Although Tipping’s riding land was lost, she said Brookhaven College was the best thing that could happen to this land. Tipping said Brookhaven College is “unimaginably important to the North Dallas community.”