Springfield Normal School and Business College

Springfield, Missouri

1894-1906

Travel and E-Travel

I was a graduate of Southwest Missouri State College well before it became Missouri State University. The old Springfield Normal campus was long gone then, but I knew the Cherry at Pickwick area where it had been located—just north and east of my SMS campus.   Western Manuscript Library at Rolla has the 1902-1903 Catalogue, from which the logo came.

History

Springfield Normal School was the product of one man—John A. Taylor.  He bought property from the Springfield Poor Farm in 1894 and built a new building for his college.  Fiercely independent, he announced that he was “not compelled to beg at church doors nor legislative halls” to maintain his school.

 

Springfield Normal offered only one degree—a Master of Pedagogy degree, awarded for two years work.  The school opened with 300 students but reached nearly 800 by 1906.  It had YMCA and YWCA chapters, as well as literary societies.  Many of the students were teachers who could only attend college during breaks and vacations.  To meet the needs of these students, Springfield Normal had a policy that students could enter or leave at any time during the year.  Classes, likewise, were open-ended.  They met until faculty determined that students had mastered the content—however many or few class meeting were required.

 

In 1906 the state awarded a normal school to Springfield—the fourth normal school around the state.  At this point Taylor ceded his Normal Department to the state school along with “good will.”  He also leased the building to the new state school.  Five of his faculty became teachers there.  Taylor then moved his Business Division to a new location at Jefferson and Walnut.

A view of Springfield Normal School building.  (Catalogue, Courtesy of Western Historical Manuscript Library, Rolla)

Bricks and Mortar

The 1902-1903 catalogue describe Pickwick Place as having all the advantages of the city without its noise and distractions.   The imposing brick building was constructed next door to the buildings of the county Poor Farm.  The main building was well suited to the purposes for which it was intended, and the surrounding campus was extensive and attractive

 

The Main Building housed the new state school for two years until Carrington Hall was constructed.  The Old Normal building, once the largest educational structure in the region, sat empty for a number of years as various uses were proposed.  It had too few dormitory structures for a military academy and was too large for a hospital.  Finally, it was razed in 1916.  

Sports

Springfield Normal played football between 1902 and 1905, according to College Football Data Warehouse.  The 1902 team went 8-1; the 1903 team went 6-1-1. 

That team had victories over Fort Scott (KS) HS, the University of Arkansas, crosstown rival Drury College, Scarritt Classical Institute, Monett High School and the Mount Vernon Athletic Association.  They drew with Fort Scott and lost to Drury.  Opponents in other years were Rolla School of Mines, Iberia Academy, West Plains Business College, and Marionville Collegiate Institute.

 

The 1904 team played Cherokee Male Seminary from Talaquah, OK in the first night game played west of the Mississippi River, with the field lighted by flares.  

The 1903 Normal team.  (National Collegiate Athletic Association Official Football Guide 1904 <babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=umn.319510014155357;view=2up;seq=200)

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