Virginia K. Johnson was a topic of this year’s Dallas History Conference. She operated a house of refuge for unmarried women in late 1800 – early 1900 Dallas. Her organization, Sheltering Arms, outgrew it’s facility around 1911, when Ms. Johnson raised money to buy 18 acres in Oak Cliff to build a home and training school to accommodate 200 women and teach skills. Virginia K. Johnson Home and Training School operated successfully until 1941, when it was forced to close after laws changed. The buildings were destroyed and the 18-acre tract of land at 901 S. Madison Avenue was divided and sold. A large portion was purchased by Catholic Diocese of Dallas to create Conference and Formation Center facilities, operating at this address today.
Virginia continued her work with the community until her passing in 1934. Her projects included assisting with fundraising efforts for SMU to build her namesake building, Virginia K Johnson Hall. She also is responsible for a dormitory at Texas College for Women (currently TWU) in Denton.