Huron College – Huron, South Dakota (circa 1900)

Before South Dakota became a state, a group of Presbyterian leaders founded a college in Pierre.

In 1883, this was the first college to grant degrees in the Dakota Territories.

The town of Huron, in east central South Dakota, was being developed as a center for the Chicago & Northwest Railroad; in 1897, the Presbyterian University moved to Huron and became “Huron College”.

(Huron and Pierre vied to be named the State Capital, a victory accorded to Pierre due to its location closer to the center of the territory.)

This postcard photograph was made very early in the twentieth century, probably a few years after Huron College was founded.

Huron College was accredited by the North Central Association of Schools and Colleges by 1915; in subsequent years, two students became Rhodes Scholars and many graduates achieved local prominence.

Alas, the small liberal arts college became over-burdened with debt in the 1980’s and the college was rescued by a grant from the city of Huron to pay debts of the college and to purchase the Fine Arts Center.

Management of the school was given to a for-profit education company.

This ended the College’s one-hundred- year identity as a private, Presbyterian-affiliated, college.

The plan to preserve the College was not successful, and Huron College was re-sold to other for-profit companies, to a Japanese educational firm, and then was re-founded as a Tribal School of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe.

After painful struggles, Huron College closed permanently in 2005.

Some campus buildings were re-purposed for community uses, but parts of the College were demolished.

One hates to see the end of unique institutions with roots in the earliest years of the State’s development.

And, the loss of any liberal arts college is a source of sadness.

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