September 2, 1902: Opening day for Duluth Normal School, predecessor to UMD

On this day in Duluth in 1902, the Duluth Normal School opened with an enrollment of 75 students. President E. E. Bohannon, a professor of Psychology, proclaimed that “We want moral support of the community to make the Duluth Normal School a success. There have been obstacles to surmount; we have brushed them aside. The city must faithfully perform its part in the relations which are to exist between it and the institution. I am confident that it will do so. I am certain of the ultimate success of the school.” One of the obstacles he was referring to may have been a 1901 fire that destroyed the main campus building, then still under construction. The Normal School was indeed successful and went on to become the Duluth State Teacher’s College and later the University of Minnesota Duluth. Today nearly 11,000 students are enrolled at the UMD campus, many of them attending liberal arts courses held in the college’s Bohannon Hall, home of the school’s department of Psychology. Old Main was destroyed by fire in 1993. Several buildings remain on the Old Campus, part of which has become Old Main Park, where three of the main building’s ruined walls still stand. Read more about Old Main here.

This postcard of the campus of the Duluth Normal School was created between 1909 and 1915. (Image: Zenith City Press)