Guide to the Alice Carr Trust Fund Records, RG 131

Listed by: Dieter C. Ullrich
Date: October 2003

Date Span:

1.0 cubic feet; 700 items.

Number of Boxes:
2 document boxes.

Historical or Biographical Sketch:
Alice Carr, an Auburn dressmaker/milliner, died in 1905 and willed in trust to the Board of Stewards of the Auburn Methodist Episcopal Church, South (where she had been a member) her house and lot on Main (now College) Street, where Ingram Hall is now located. Never having been able to obtain a good edu- cation and having had to struggle to earn a living, Miss Carr nevertheless had acquired a substantial estate at the time of her death. She instructed the Board of Stewards to rent the property and use the money as a loan without interest to assist "some deserving and properly ambitious, poor Christian girl, in obtaining an education or in starting in some business." The girls were to repay the money when they were able. The selection of the beneficiaries was left to the Board of Stewards, which selected a three-man fund committee to administer the trust fund. The first committee consisted of C. C. Thach, J. T. Anderson, and T. A. Flanagan.

Around 1922, Miss Carr's heirs talked of contesting her will, and the lawyer for the Board of Stewards feared that the courts might not uphold the trust. Accordingly, in 1923 when the Alabama Polytechnic Institute wanted to acquire the property, the Board, the heirs, and the college conferred and decided to let API bring "friendly condemnation proceedings." On 20 August 1923 the Chancery Court deeded the house and lot to the college for $4500.00, an amount fixed by court-appointed appraisers. The following year the full amount was loaned to API at six per cent interest payable semi-annually on April 15 and October 15. For the first year API paid the fund $270.00. In 1929 the dates for the interest payment were changed to January 1 and July 1 each year just prior to college registration periods so that the beneficiaries could use the money to pay fees.

By 1933 forty-two girls had received loans, but the fund was in serious trouble. Only $42.95 remained in the account and no funds were available to be lent. The Board appointed a three-man fact-finding committee, which discovered that the fund committee had been loaning money to girls about whom they knew little. Over half the beneficiaries had not even begun to pay back their loans, and the fact-finding committee estimated that only about half of the $460.15 in outstanding loans might be collected within ten years. It recommended that the fund committee members be elected annually and that a "DEFINITE policy of rating all applicants be drawn up in writing." The beneficiaries would now have to be members of a Methodist church and have good recommendations from three responsible citizens from their hometown, one of whom was willing to endorse the loan. The girls would also have to sign promissory notes agreeing to start repaying the loan within one year after leaving school (whether they had graduated or not). Twenty per cent of the loan was to be paid semi-annually with six per cent interest on the balance. Each beneficiary also had to have a life insurance policy of at least $1000.00 payable to the Fund until the entire amount of her loan had been repaid.

In 1936 API repaid its $4500.00 loan, and the Board of Stewards put the money into a savings account. For the next two years the Board just used the two per cent interest for the loan fund. This considerably decreased the amount available to be lent.

In 1937 Sam J. Carroll of Ozark, Alabama donated $500.00 to the Fund and some of the borrowers had paid back enough of their loans to give the Board the capital ($6500.00) to buy as an investment a ten-room frame house and lot on South Gay Street from Sigma Pi fraternity. The house, renamed Carr Hall, was soon rented out for $60.00/month ($50.00/month in the summer) to the Reverend Frank S. Moseley, Director of the Wesley Foundation, for use as a home for young men active in church work.

The Wesley Foundation rented Carr Hall until June 1942 when the committee decided to rent to someone else as a regular business proposition. Besides, the Wesley Foundationts need for the house had decreased because of the drop in male students due to World War II. The committee paid the Foundation $690.00 for furniture purchased for Carr Hall, and began to rent to private citizens.

Within a few years Carr Hall had deteriotated so much that the committee was only charging $30.00/month rent. In 1950 the committee authorized much needed repairs and set up the Alice Carr Maintenance Fund to care for the house. After the repairs the house rented for $90.00/month.

In 1951 the Board of Stewards voted to increase the number of committee members to five. Within a few years the committee decided to loosen the rigid requirements for the loan since the number of applicants had dropped. The policy was to lend only enough money to cover tuition plus a small amount for books and stationery, but the beneficiaries could now be of any Christian denomination and the requirement that two responsible guarantors endorse the note was eliminated. The life insurance requirement was also eliminated and the interest rate on the loan was dropped to four per cent.

In 1955 Carr Hall and property was sold to St. Mary's Mission House for $30,100. The committee spent $2500 for an Alice Carr memorial window, called "Woman at the Well", for the church sanctuary. In 1960 the total assests in the account was $40,122-43. The majority of this was invested in church bonds. In that year the committee also changed the interest rates for the loans. For the first year after leaving college there would be no interest. The interest rate would then increase one per cent for each year thereafter until reaching a maximum of four per cent.

By the mid-1960s the loan requirements changed once again. The committee would not consider any application until the applicant had completed three quarters of school work. The amount loaned per girl was not to exceed $200.00 per quarter and $2000.00 total. As a general rule, the beneficiaries shortly live in Gatchell Hall, the cooperative dormitory.

By 1966, seventy-three girls had shared in the nearly $25,000 in loans made. In 1970 the total assets of the Fund equalled $47,487.31.

Scope and Content:
The Alice Carr Trust Fund Collection includes histories of the Carr Estate and how dividends derived were used to help good, Christian girls go to college or start a business. Loans were repaid when practical. Applications, letters of recommendation, financial records and correspondence between the girls and the board of stewards are contained in the collection from 1912 to 1967. Other material concerns correspondence and financial records pertaining to the Carr property.

Item list:
Box 1

Box 2

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