July 1, 1947: Duluth Teachers College becomes UMD

On this day in Duluth in 1947, the Duluth State Teacher’s College became the Duluth Branch of the University of Minnesota System—today’s UMD. The facility first opened in 1902 as the Duluth State Normal School; that first year its enrollment was 100 students. In 1921, it became the Duluth State Teachers College, intended to to provide four years of training for teachers. The first bachelor’s degrees were awarded in 1927. By then, the campus had four buildings: Old Main, Torrence Hall, Washburn Hall, and the Laboratory School. Governor Luther Youngdahl signed the bill turning the Teacher’s College into the Duluth Branch of the University of Minnesota in 1947. Enrollment for its first year as the University of Minnesota, Duluth Branch, was 1,432 students. The campus, along 5th Street at 22nd Avenue East, contained four buildings. In 1949 the University began expanding on a new campus sight west of Woodland Avenue on land that had once been a hey field for the Zenith Dairy. Today that campus sprawls with over 40 buildings that served 10,735 students in 2013. Old Main was destroyed by fire on February 21, 1991, and its ruins became the centerpiece of Old Main Park. Torrance Hall, Washburn Hall, and the Laboratory School still stand.

The ruins of Old Main photographed in 2009 by Dennis O’Hara. (Image: Northern Images)

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