State Normal School (UMD)

The State Normal School at Duluth is one of six schools which form an important factor in the free educational system of the state. The first official action toward the establishment of one of these schools in Duluth was taken in 1895, but owing to delays from various causes the school was not opened until 1902. A site of six acres was given in a most attractive location, surrounded by sylvan scenes and overlooking the waters of Lake Superior from a height of more than 300 feet. Appropriations aggregating $80, 000 were made by the state and the building was nearly completed in February, 1901, when fire destroyed the entire structure. This disaster delayed the opening of the school for about one year.

The laboratories were equipped at an expense of $7, 500 and all the apparatus is new and in accordance with modern methods of teaching. There is a library of several thousand volumes, in charge of a competent librarian. Important features are the manual training and domestic science departments. The latter was established in 1903 at the solicitation of the Woman’s Clubs of Duluth, the members of which offered to provide the equipment on condition that the state should provide a teacher.

The enrollment of the school has more than doubled since it was opened, the whole number of students for 1909 being 456. Of these 305 were in the normal department and 151 in the training department.

Five years ago a very attractive fireproof dormitory was constructed and it has added greatly to the comfort and convenience of those who have come to the city to attend the school. The legislature of 1909 appropriated $65, 000 for the construction and equipment of a second dormitory and $50, 000 for an addition to the main building. The dormitory is now almost completed and will be ready for use during the present year. The addition to the main building will be erected this year.

The object of the school is to prepare teachers for the common schools of the state. For this reason those who enter are required to pledge themselves to teach at least two years immediately succeeding graduation or pay a tuition of $30 a year.

The diploma of the State Normal Schools is made a temporary state certificate of the first for the two years of actual teaching required by the student’s pledge. After that, upon satisfactory evidence the diploma becomes a state teachers’ certificate of the first grade for life. Graduates from the advanced courses in the State Normal Schools are admitted without examination to the sophomore year in the State University and the leading colleges of the state. The interest and generosity of a friend of the school has resulted in the establishment of a loan fund of $5, 000 for the assistance of worthy students.

Washburn Hall, the name of the first dormitory built, is a beautifully designed and exceedingly well constructed home for students. It is situated on the campus adjoining the main building.

It is a two-story building with a well-lighted basement and is of fireproof construction throughout. It is heated by low pressure steam, has a very complete system of ventilation, is supplied with both gas and electric light, has toilet and bath rooms on all floors, with a large and well furnished laundry in the basement, to which all students have free access. The kitchen, pantries and dining room are exceedingly well equipped and sufficient for the accommodation of fifty to seventy-five persons.

The officers of administration are: J. L. Washburn, resident director; E. W. Bohannon, president; Clara M. Murray, secretary. The faculty numbers, beside President Bohannon, Linus W. Kline, Ph. D.; Harry C. Strong, A. B.; Jesse W. Hubbard, A. M.; Herbert Blair, B. S.; Anna N. Carey, A. B.; Katharine D. Post, B. L.; Beulah I. Shoesmith, B. S.; Ethel Mae Long, Ida E. Van Stone, Florence D. Pettengill, Elizabeth Robertson, Olive B. Home, Anna J. Beiswenger, Cecil A. Palmer, A. B., Evelyn R. Lyons, Margaret J. Quilliard and Ruth Ely.

The courses of study embrace algebra, arithmetic, botany, chemistry, civics, drawing, education, elementary science, English composition, geography, geometry, grammar, United States history, general history, English history, kindergarten, Latin, literature, manual training, music, physics, physiography, physiology, psychology, reading and expression, rhetoric, social science, themes and literature and zoology.

The school buildings are situated on East Fifth street, between Twenty-second and Twenty-third avenues, and are within one block of two lines of street cars. Most of the students are from various points in Minnesota, but Wisconsin, North Dakota, Iowa and other states are represented, as well as the Dominion of Canada.


From Dwight Woodbridge and John Pardee’s History of Duluth and St. Louis County Past and Present Vols. 1 – 2. C. F. Cooper & Company, Chicago: 1910.


State Normal School

The movement to establish a state normal school in Duluth may be supposed to have been the outcome of a like institution begun in Duluth in 1892, and continued at the expense of the local school board. Superintendent Denfeld was mainly responsible for its establishment and direction. He had experienced difficulty in finding teachers of merit for the public schools of the city; and therefore planned to institute a normal-training course, of one year’s duration, for applicants for teaching certificates.

The normal training school was opened “early in the school year” of 1892, being housed in part of the old high school, the Liberty school of today. Miss Ada Van Stone Harris was principal, and Miss Isabelle C. Deming principal of the kindergarten department. Seventeen students were in the first class, which graduated in June, 1893. For some time thereafter, the normal school was given quarters in the Central High School building; and the movement was even then prosecuted to induce the state to take up the matter and establish in Duluth a state normal school commensurate with the educational importance of St. Louis County. “On January 20, 1893, Representative Boggs started a movement in the State Legislature for the founding of a Normal School in Duluth” states the “History of St. Louis County” (1910).

There were many delays, but eventually the project was taken up by the state, and the school opened in 1902. An unusual incident 338339 in connection with the building was that in February, 1901, when the structure was nearly completed, it was destroyed by fire, otherwise the school would have been opened in 1901.

The building is situated on East Fifth Street, between Twenty-second and Twenty-third avenues, and several enlargements have been necessary since the building was opened in 1902.


  • Van Brunt, Walter, ed. Duluth and St. Louis County, Minnesota Vols. 1 – 3. The American Historical Society. Chicago: 1922.