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Idaho's Normal Schools, Part Two

Updated: May 9, 2022

Yesterday I gave a little history of the Albion State Normal School in southern Idaho. In 1893 the Idaho State Legislature authorized two normal schools, one in Albion and the other in Lewiston. Funding for those schools was slow in coming. It became up to the towns where the schools would reside to get them going.

The City of Lewiston donated 10 acres in a city park as the site for the new normal school. The “park” was little more than a sandy, barren hill, soon to be known as Normal Hill.

Construction of the first campus building went on in fits and starts until 1895 when the Legislature issued bonds to pay for its completion. That assurance, and the sight of a building going up, encouraged the new president of the school, George Knepper, to get things going. He found temporary space in a downtown building to begin classes. Forty-six students were in that first class in January 1896. In the fall, classes would begin on campus.

That first campus building (picture), which still stands, was later named James W. Reid Centennial Hall in honor of the man who lobbied successfully for creation of the school. Today it is the center for student services and holds administrative offices and classrooms.

The school expanded to offer 4-year degrees in 1943 and became the Northern Idaho College of Education in 1947.

As mentioned yesterday, the Idaho Legislature commissioned a study of Idaho’s higher education institutions in. 1946. That study resulted in the closure of both the Northern Idaho College of Education and Albion Normal School in 1951.

Albion never did reopen, but in 1955 the Lewiston campus got going again as the Lewis-Clark Normal School. It originally operated as a branch of Idaho State University, offering degrees for elementary school teachers. In 1963 the Legislature gave Lewis-Clark its autonomy as an independent undergraduate institution. Its role was expanded in 1965 to include practical and associate degrees in nursing. Then, in 1971 the Idaho Legislature changed the name to Lewis-Clark State College.

Today the college offers a variety of undergraduate degrees in liberal arts, sciences, business, technical programs, and education.

Speaking of Idaho history posts are copyright © 2020 by Rick Just.


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