The 120-year-old Oneida Stake Academy is located in Preston, Idaho. Amongst its alumni are two former presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Harold B. Lee and Ezra Taft Benson, as well as several living general authorities of the world-wide Church. Benson was also the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture following WWII.
Students walked the halls of the Oneida Stake Academy for over a century living a multitude of memories. Now there's a place to gather them.
This view from 1924 shows the full-sized window panes.
will be installed in the front walls of the Oneida Stake Academy building this
week. Much appreciated funds from an anonymous donor have made their purchase
and installation possible. The windows are being made by Sierra Pacific
Industries of Salt Lake City. Seasoned window installer Ralph Cook from
Hillcrest Construction will set them.
building’s construction 125 years ago, the windows have been changed more than
once, as panes were broken. The earliest pictures of the building show that the
large rectangular windows were each made up of two single panes of glass in
double-hung frames. In later pictures, the large single panes were replaced
with four smaller panes. Windows of both styles remain in the building today,
their aged and severely warped wooden frames irreparable. They will be replaced
with large paned windows to match the original design of the building.
are restoring the Oneida Stake Academy Building to be used for contemporary
use, the board felt it was wise to match the original design of the windows
with contemporary materials in order to minimize maintenance costs for the
future,” said Nathan Hale, chairman of the Oneida Stake Academy Foundation.
building’s original architects understood how to work with Mother Nature in
order to light and cool the building using the windows. Without the modern
conveniences of electric lights and air-conditioning and heating, that
knowledge was critical to make the building capable of providing an atmosphere
in which students could learn.
window means that both the upper and lower panes of a window can be raised and
lowered, using a system of weights built into the window frames. Taking
advantage of the properties of hot and cold air, those early builders could
create a cooling draft in a room simply by raising the lower panel and dropping
the upper panel on a window. This principle was applied to cool the entire
edifice by strategically opening and closing windows in different parts of the
shape of the windows was more than a fashion statement. The tall rectangular
shape of the windows allowed sunlight from the earliest rays of morning to the
latest evening light to enter the rooms, extending their use as long as
possible. Lantern light would be used after the sun set if the building was
still in use.
the new windows will appear as they did a century ago, they will not open as
they did due to the benefit of modern heating, cooling and the litigious nature
of today’s society.
progress is the building’s front door. Working in his shop on West Oneida, Wes
Dryden is deciphering the process used by the pioneers to duplicate the
original door. More on that story will appear in a future edition of The
interested in being a part of the restoration of the elegant Oneida Stake
Academy building as a cultural center/museum of local history is invited to
contact one of the OSAF’s board members for i deas. For example, a donation of
$2500 will install another window. Gifts of higher amounts will help restore
additional features of the building. Additional information on this idea can be
found on an earlier post on this blog and at www.oneidastakeacademy.org. Board members are: Nathan Hale,
Sydney Hale, Lyle Fuller, Elliott Larsen, Paul Judd, Saundra Hubbard, Necia
Seamons, Larry Bradford, Kim Wilson and Jim Brown.
One hundred Thanksgiving days ago, Nephi Larsen stood on the Streets of Preston with Oscar A. Kirkham watching students of the Oneida Stake Academy march in a Founder's Day parade. The OSA band was playing and banners were waving in the autumn breeze, wrote Larsen in an article that appeared in the May 1915 edition of the "Improvement Era," a publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"One of the banners, held proudly above the heads of the marching students, had printed on it in bold letters, "Labor conquers everything." Kirkham caught sight of the inscription and remarked, "Labor does not conquer everything. There are many things that can only be conquered by faith."
ONEIDA STAKE ACADEMY, Preston, Idaho, was commenced under the jurisdiction of the presidency of the Oneida Stake at Franklin, Idaho, Oct. 1, 1888, with 75 students and two teachers. In 1898, a fine cut stone building having been erected for the school at Preston, the equipment was moved to that city. As the scope of the work increased, another fine school building was added in 1907 and a well-equipped gymnasium was built in 1915. Preparatory, normal, high school, commercial, domestic science, carpentry, missionary and music courses were offered and the school served a noble purpose until, on account of the splendid facilities offered by the state schools, duplication of scholastic courses was avoided and the Academy closed in 1922.
Following are the names of the presidents of the Oneida Stake Academy:
Samuel Cornwall, 1888-1889;
James S. Rawlins, 1889-1890;
Jos. G. Nelson, 1890-1893;
John E. Dalley, 1893-1896;
Josiah E. Hickman, 1896-1899;
Dr. Allen R. Cutler, 1899-1900;
Edwin Cutler, 1900-1906;
Dr. John Johnson, 1906-1912;
J. Robert Robinson, 1912-1914;
Joseph A. Geddes, 1914-1920, and
Thomas C. Romney, 1920-1922.
Encyclopedic History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
by Andrew Jenson
A mini- vintage
car show will precede the new and original musical, “If These Walls Could Talk”
this Friday and Saturday, Aug. 8 & 9, in Benson Park.
who has gathered vintage cars to be part of the pageant, has invited the owners
to display the vehicles in Benson Park, west of the Oneida Stake Academy building.
They will do so from 4-7 p.m. both nights.
You are invited to the premier of the Oneida Stake Academy Foundation's new, original musical:
"If These Walls Could Talk."
When a grandfather trying to connect to his digitally-minded grandson, a father hoping to inspire his rambunctious young family and a young man in love trying to share a meaningful secret with his sweetheart, unexpectedly meet in the Oneida Stake Academy building, they discover that sometimes walls can talk.
The Oneida Stake Academy Cultural Center debuts its first ever musical pageant on August 8 & 9, at 8:30 p.m.
“If These Walls Could Talk” is a clever musical written by local writer, Cecelie Costley. Director Dani Dunn, of Franklin, brings together professional music written by renowned composer, Tyler Castleton, snappy dancing choreographed by Paula Lemmon, Taessia King, and Autumn Coats, local voices under the direction of chorister Karla Gundersen, colorful costumes assembled by Pat Moses and Glenda Swainston, Joe Ward’s horses and antique cars gathered by Doug West for a wonderful evening of song, dance and storytelling the whole family will enjoy.
The elegant 124-year-old Oneida Stake Academy building itself will star in the show, as the pageant will be held in the intersection in front of the OSA, at 8:30 p.m. both nights.
The production involves dozens and dozens of local actors, dancers, costume directors, prop and scenery builders, musicians, staging, light and sound experts, singers, make-up artists, and committee members.
“I am thrilled about storyline and music,” said Oneida Stake Academy Foundation board member, Necia Seamons, who has been dreaming about the idea of a pageant since the OSAF was formed a decade ago. “Cecelie, Tyler and Dani have captured the essence of the academy’s story to be able to share it in an entertaining and uplifting manner. We are thrilled to share the production with the descendants and beneficiaries of the people who built the magnificent Oneida Stake Academy building 124 years ago.”
On the evenings of the performance, the public is invited to bring a donation to help with the building’s restoration as a cultural center/museum of local history. Bleachers erected in the intersection of Oneida and First East will be open for seating at 7:30 p.m. People may also bring blankets for seating to the sides of the bleachers.
Parking will be available at the South Stake Center and the alley behind the business district in Preston. First East and Oneida will be closed to through-traffic for about one block in each direction from their intersection from 6 p.m. to about 10:30 p.m. both nights.
Sponsors of the event are the Preston School District, Franklin County, Preston City, Mary Heers and the F. M., Anne G., and Beverly B. Bistline Foundation.
(The Oneida Stake Academy is the alma mater of Ezra Taft Benson and Harold B. Lee, both presidents of the world-wide Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Other alum of note are LDS general authorities, Richard Edgley, Joe J. Christensen, and Spencer J. Condie, first agent inducted into the FBI Hall of Fame, Samuel Cowley, and Utah State University president, E.G. Petersen. Of almost 40 academies built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the end of the 19th Century, the OSA is one of just five that are still standing. It is in Preston, Idaho, and is being restored for public use by the Oneida Stake Academy Foundation.)
Author Michael Chrichton, who gained famed when Hollywood brought his book, Jurassic Park to the big screen, once said, “If you don’t know history, you don’t know anything. You are like a leaf not knowing that it is part of a tree.”
Summer offers on opportunity to connect with history as families recreate together. Showcasing the legacy Franklin County pioneers left their descendants, the Oneida Stake Academy Foundation and its partners have organized three family friendly events this summer, said Nathan Hale, chairman of the Oneida Stake Academy Foundation.
OSA Legacy Bike Race – July 19, 7 a.m.
the Legacy Bike Race, slated for July 19, at 7 a.m.Racers will begin at the Oneida Stake Academy
Cultural Center, 90 E. Oneida, and follow three different courses: an 18-mile, 50-mile and 62.6
mile (Metric Century) so participants can choose their own level of intensity,
said Brandon Olsen, committee member.
“We will have
everything from serious riders to families and scout groups so going at your
own pace is A-OK,” said another committee member, Casey Judd.
“This is a
perfect opportunity for scout troops to help their community out while earning
their biking merit badge,” said Hale, also an avid supporter of the Scouting
program. Registration will be $35, with discounts for families, teams and
The Heritage Day debuted last summer as part of Franklin County’s Centennial birthday party. Participants enjoyed their summer afternoon in the shadow of the Oneida Stake Academy playing old fashioned games, bidding then dining on succulent homemade pies, making butter, playing in horseshoe and marble tournaments, and riding in Joe Ward’s stagecoach, and listening to local musicians in the park. There was an antique tractor show, a blacksmith and wool spinners to watch and a Dutch oven dinner to enjoy.
This year’s celebration will echo last year’s fun with many of the same features, but will also include new elements. For example, this year, new tractors will be featured in the antique tractor show, new exhibits, games, and a visit from the American West Gunfighters.
For more information, contact OSAF Heritage Day Committee Chairwoman Saundra Hubbard, at 339-1674.
"WITHIN THESE WALLS" (MUSICAL) – Aug. 8 and 9, 8:30 p.m.
Unforeseen challenges prevented the debut of the Oneida Stake Academy Foundation’s pageant, featuring original music and script, as part of the county’s birthday celebration last year. Nevertheless, the show will go on, said OSAF Pageant Committee chairwoman, Alice King, “and the wait has been worth it.”
Pulling in vast musical and dramatic talent from within Franklin County’s boundaries, this event promises to be a worthwhile and entertaining evening for its attendees, said King. The script, written by Cecelie Costley and directed by Danielle Dunn, brings local history alive as seen through the eyes of former OSA students and leaders. Motives that pushed pioneers to sacrifice personally to build the elegant structure, and the influence the school had on its students, are emphasized through music written for the show by county native and music world giant, Tyler Castleton.
Slated to be held in front of the picturesque academy building itself, the pageant will start at 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 8 & 9.
“We hope these events will help the public feel the unity our ancestors felt in providing a beautiful future for us. Each one will offer us an opportunity to participate in the restoration of that grand symbol of our past,” said Hale. Any fees or donations connected with these events are tax-deductible and will benefit the restoration of the 124-year-old building into a cultural center/museum of local history.
Special thanks to the missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They have spent several hours helping to spruce up the Oneida Stake Academy building. We can't say thank you enough! To see more photos, click on the following link: Photo Album on Facebook
1975, Newell Hart (pictured above and leaning back), the quintessential historical and preservationist of the
Oneida Stake Academy, was going over with readers of the Cache Valley
Newsletter (CVN) the many uses a restored Oneida Stake Academy building could
be used for.
us read what Newell suggested:
would fill 15 issues of C.V.N. to outline the many uses to which a restored Academy
would be put. There are many rooms and much space. One room should be devoted
to the Oneida Stake Academy heritage – photos , mementoes, painting or low-up
sketches of some of the famous old characters – Merrill, Geddes, Packer, et
all; and another room for P.H.S. – photos of all its athletic teams, trophies,
copies of its publications (do you know P.H.S. doesn’t even have a library of
its old Quiver yearbooks or blueWhitepapers?!!), blow-up photos
of some of the decorated balls at the Opera House or Gym. A gallery for
exhibiting work by the native artists and craftsmen. There could be a room
filled with Roy Sorensen type artifacts – inspired by the best relic collector
of ‘em all. There is a new concept in museums. They’re not dead anymore. But
that’s another story.
“In the basement could be a vault for original historical
documents of Franklin County. This would be invaluable for students assigned to
write an essay, a speaker scheduled to talk in church or in some other public
place, news reporters seeking a background to their stories. Diaries, letters,
old papers, early Preston business letterheads, copies of all O.S.A. catalogs
and documents reportedly sent to Salt Lake City in 1922, microfilm & reader
for copies of many-many old-time public and church documents of the area. And
how about copies of all those ancestral biographies that are read in Daughters
of Pioneer meetings? What happens to them?
“Meanwhile, upstairs in the restored auditorium: an old
time jazz concert once in awhile; an occasional play staged by local or
visiting dramatic groups (Utah State Theatre, Northern Cache Valley Dramatic
Society, Antique Festival Theatre of Hagerman Valley, the Washakie Theatre
Group of Bear Lake); we might even try having our Old-timers Homecoming there.
Or, for making a little expense money, we could consider renting it out as a
real character setting for class reunions, family get-togethers, wedding receptions
Several years ago, without having read this newsletter,
the board members of the Oneida Stake Academy Foundation adopted the following
uses for the building upon its restoration:
next century of service, each room of the Oneida Stake Academy will tell a
story to visitors and patrons. The main floor will house an information center,
a historical classroom and a museum/interpretive center.
basement will provide a large meeting room, restrooms, and a kitchen. An
elevator will make all floors ADA accessible.
floor is a ballroom and will be an elegant setting for important events such as
class and family reunions, wedding receptions, and other social gatherings.
plays, concerts and other entertaining events in the academy's ballroom,
extended staircase and courtyard will enrich everyone's visit to the academy.”
It seems the
OSA building’s future has never been a question.
Anyone interested in helping to complete the OSA building's restoration as a cultural center/museum, may contact the board members of the Oneida Stake Academy Foundation at email@example.com. We have need of committee members on the following committees: fund-raising, events (OSAF Legacy Bicycle Race on July 19, OSAF Heritage Day on July 24, OSAF Pageant on Aug. 8&9), planned giving, grant writing, construction.