The photograph shows what was variously called Springfield Normal
School, Taylor Normal School and Springfield Normal and Business
College. The school was founded in 1894 by J.A. Taylor, who served
as president of the school. The photograph must have been taken
before 1906 when the school merged with the newly established State
The impressive school in the picture, built in 1894, was located
at the northeast corner of a large tract of land at Cherry and Pickwick
Streets. The main student entrance is where the students are gathered
on the right side of the photograph. At the back or left side of
the building, where the trees are visible, was the location of the
former Greene County Poor Farm. The Springfield Normal School bought
the building and land from the county in 1894 and built their imposing
new building next to the Poor Farm. The photograph was apparently
taken at an angle so that we don't see the Poor Farm, but the school
did use the building.
President Taylor headed the school for its entire existence, from
1894 to 1905. He was fiercely independent about the private school,
declaring in one of his catalogues that it was "not compelled to
beg at church doors nor legislative halls." The school motto was
"Learn it Right." The school emphasized education over degrees and,
in fact, only offered one degree, a Master of Pedagogy for two years
of work above the high school level. Students were expelled for
being seen entering a pool hall.
The Springfield Normal and Business School had a surprising variety
of extra-curricular activities. There were Y.M.C.A. and Y.W.C.A.
activities, literary societies and athletic teams. The first night
football game west of the Mississippi was played on the Normal field
on October 13, 1904. The game was played against the Cherokee Indians
from Tahlequah, Indian Territory, and Springfield Normal won 11-0.
Gasoline flare lights were suspended over the field to provide lighting.
In the final full year of operation Springfield Normal enrolled
700 students. Five of the 15 Springfield Normal faculty joined the
staff at State Normal School in 1906. There was no opposition from
the private school to the establishment of a new State Normal School.
It cooperated fully, granting to the new school "its Normal department
and good will." Mr. Taylor served on the staff at State Normal for
a while and moved his business college to a new building at Jefferson
and Walnut Streets. State Normal rented the Springfield Normal building
until 1908 when the Academic Hall
was built at its current location on National Avenue. In 1916 the
Springfield Normal building was torn down and its bricks were used
to build houses in the area.