More origins stories from Freeman Academy


taken from a Facebook post by Freeman Academy

97 years ago this month, Memorial Hall, now commonly known as the Admin Building, opened its doors. Read more about the history of this stately building here…

As enrollment and course offerings increased after the first decade after classes began at South Dakota Mennonite College in the fall of 1903, “the need for more room became evident,” wrote Marie J. Waldner in her book “For Half a Century.” “By 1919, overcrowding in all areas of activity increased to the point where the commercial department was transferred to the (Freeman) City Hall,” she wrote.

However, she noted, “little actual progress beyond the appointment of a series of committees for planning and collecting funds was accomplished. In the early 1920s, “plans for a new administration building almost bogged down completely.

Then, rather suddenly, plans shifted to a new gymnasium-auditorium; construction began in 1923; it was dedicated in December that year. “The new building filled a real need,” she wrote. “But it did not alleviate the overcrowding in the classrooms.”

“It was not until the beginning of 1926, however, that definite action began.” “And so, after years of urging by both the administration and the corporation, the most pretentious building program was started even though the pledges on hand at that time were only $37,000. Another $15,000 had to be borrowed to meet the mounting costs; most was borrowed from individuals on notes secured by various directors,” she wrote.

Groundwork began in spring 1926. The cornerstone was laid on July 25; things progressed so rapidly that the three-story brick building was completed before the end of the year. On December 11, classes were transferred from the old college to the new building, named Memorial Hall. It was valued at $60,000.

In the 97 years since, there have been numerous renovation and remodeling projects as the building has adapted to changing needs. But for nearly a century it has remained the center of the school program, home to administrative offices, classrooms, library and chapel.

(Special thanks, once again, to Heritage Hall Museum & Archives!)

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