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Mason College of Music and Fine Arts

The Mason College of Music and Fine Arts in Charleston was founded in 1906 by Dr. William Sandheger ‘‘Sandy’’ Mason, an accomplished violinist and the founder of the Mason Quartet, as well as a city symphony and civic chorus in Charleston.

Mason (1873–1941) was born in Charleston. A talented musician, he studied in Cincinnati, New York, Munich, and Paris before returning to Cincinnati to be first violinist in the city’s symphony orchestra. He conducted choirs in Houston and Columbus. In 1904, he moved back to Charleston and started the Mason School of Music and Fine Arts.

In 1936, a new charter changed the name to Mason College of Music and Fine Arts. It offered preparatory classes for children, college classes for undergraduates, training for public school teachers, and arts classes for adults. The school attracted talented teachers from Charleston and abroad, including some who were fleeing Nazi persecution. These teachers drew promising students. Pulitzer Prize-winning composer George Crumb of Charleston received his undergraduate degree from Mason.

After the death of Mason in 1941, his sister-in-law, Matilda Mason, was the college’s president for 14 years. Grace Martin Taylor, head of the school’s art department for two decades, succeeded her as president. In 1956, Mason College of Music and Fine Arts merged with Morris Harvey College, now University of Charleston.


  1. Wells, Sandy. An Audible Oasis of Culture. Charleston Gazette, 4/25/1991.