HISTORICAL POSTCARDS OF SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI
Springfield Normal School
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 Normal School.
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.