Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf

Skip to main content
Toggle Mobile Menu
About Us » History

History

In the beginning...

The Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf (MSAD) enrolled its first student in 1863 and takes pride in a rich tradition of serving the educational, social and emotional needs of deaf and hard of hearing students throughout the state of Minnesota.

Located on a beautiful 40-acre campus in the community of Faribault in southeastern Minnesota, the campus features historic limestone buildings nestled among mature oak and maple trees along a circular drive.

Minnesota became a state on May 11, 1858. In that year, during the session of the first state legislature, definite action was taken looking toward the establishment of a school for the deaf children of Minnesota.

The legislature decided that this institution should be located in Faribault if the citizens of the town would provide 40 acres of land within two miles of town for a site.

Citizens promptly donated 40 acres a mile or so west of town for the institution. Here the matter rested for five years. That no action was taken during these five years is not surprising when we recall that this was the time of the Civil War and local rebellion.

When the legislature met in January 1863, the bill was re-introduced providing for the inauguration of the proposed school for deaf and blind children. Faribault Legislators helped shaped the establishment of the school.

One of the first steps was to appoint a superintendent for the school. A number of applications were received and one of the commissioners, Mr. Rodney A. Mott, went to Ohio to meet Roswell H. Kinney, one of the teachers at the Ohio School for the Deaf. Mr. Kinney was highly recommended and was named the first superintendent of the Minnesota School for the Deaf.

On returning to Faribault Mr. Mott began looking for a place in which to open the school. There was no money available to put up a building on the 40 acre site. Mr. Mott rented a building in town. The rental was $150 a year. The building was located on Front and Main (across from the current building Buckham Library) and previously it was a store and home. This is now the corner of Central Ave and Division St. The building was furnished and made ready for the opening of school on the second Wednesday of September, 1863.

Highlights in School History

1863-1866 Roswell H. Kinney, Superintendent. Salary $1,000 a year. Mrs. Kinney, Matron Salary $300 a year. Live in.
1863-9-9 Minnesota State Institute for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb opened in Fowler Building. Five pupils; 3 came later.
1864 Name of school changed to Minnesota institute for the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind
1864-1870 G. W. Chase, first teacher Salary $560 a year. Live out.
1866-1896 J L. Noyes, superintendent. Salary $1,000 a year. Live in.
1868-3-17 Moved into North Wing of Mott Hall. Building cost $30,000.
1868-9-5 Enrollment: 51 deaf and 3 blind pupils.
1869-May First pupil to finish course. Anna Barnes of Dundas.
1870-May First graduating class. Five pupils.
1871-May No graduating class.
1872-May Six pupils graduated.
1873-May. One graduate. John Mann of Houston.
1874-May Three graduates.
1874-September James Cosgrove, Northfield, first Minnesota student to enter National Deaf-Mute College - now Gallaudet College.
1874-September Blind children moved into their own school with J. J. Dow, superintendent.
1877 Baseball introduced at the school.
1879 Mott Hall completed. Cost about $250,000.
1879-12-14 United States flag raised on Mott Hall tower for first time. Flag had 38 stars and was 13 by 25 feet. Flew 193 feet above ground.
1880-11-10 First death in school. Maude Potter, aged 10.
1880-12-25 Thermometer registered 45 below zero.
1881-July Superintendent's salary raised to $1,500.
1882-3-3 Fowler Building, our first school, burned down.
1885-1935 James L. Smith editor of The Companion.
1885 R. H. Kinney died.
1886 Gymnastic training for boys provided.
1886 Boys formed an athletic association.
1887 Name of school changed to Minnesota Institute for Defectives.
1887-10-18 Teachers' Association formed.
1887-10-22 Pupils organized the No-Yes Society.
1888 April Boys formed the “Buff” Baseball Club.
1888 Superintendent Noyes received Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Gallaudet College.
1888-6-6 The Companion carried a short history of the school.
1889 Ice skating rink on the campus.
1889-10-7 No-Yes Society elected its first librarian, Maria Peterson.
1890-6-25 Minnesota Association of the Deaf held its second convention at the school.
1891-1894 Our Little Companion written and printed by the pupils.
1891-1893 Military drill and maneuvers by the boys with “Col.” D. F. McClure.
1892-2-25 H. E. Barron died.
1892-3-23 Wooden guns made in our shop issued to boys for maneuvers.
1892 June Largest class up to now graduated: six boys and 12 girls.
1893-January Barron Hall occupied.
1894-1899 Children's page in The Companion by Miss Agatha Tiegel.
1894-1910 Christian Endeavor Society for boys.
1896-6-23 MAD held fourth convention at school
1896-1923 James N. Tate superintendent.
1896 School day divided into three sections; school year book printed.
1896-1897 Boys and girls of the No-Yes Society held separate meetings.  Name of society changed to Noyes Literary Society in honor of Dr. Noyes.
1897 May first picnic for pupils
1897 September Boys and girls had joint meeting of Noyes Literary Society.
1898 June First industrial exhibit at commencement in school
1899-1934 Children's page in The Companion conducted by Miss Edith Vandergrift.
1901 September First State Fair Exhibit.  Mainly speech and lipreading demonstrations by pupils.
1902 Name of school changed to Minnesota School for the Deaf.
1903 Supt. Tate received honorary L.L.D. from Westminster College, Fulton, MO.
1904 September East Wing of Noyes Hall occupied.
1905 Minnesota students at Gallaudet College granted $300 a year aid by state.
1905-1906 James L. Smith acting superintendent.  Dr. Tate ill and granted leave of absence.
1906-1907 Girls' Christian Endeavor Society.
1908 September West Wing of Noyes Hall occupied.
1910 September Noyes Hall Auditorium occupied.
1910 September Basketball introduced.
1911-6-13  MAD Eleventh Convention held at school.
1913 Tate Hall occupied.
1913 Mott Hall vacated except for kitchen and dining room.
1915-1952 Military drill; Hermian Society.
1915 State Teachers' Retirement Fund established.
1916 Current Events printed at school shop for pupils.
1916-1944 Boys' Band
1921-7-1 MAD Sixteenth convention held at school.
1923 Dr. Tate died.
1923-1924 Nannie A. Pollard acting superintendent.
1924-1928 Elwood A. Stevenson superintendent.
1924 Service Building completed and occupied.
1924-5-28  First Annual Athletic Association Banquet.
1925-1926 Mott Hall Razed.
1925-7-14 MAD Eighteenth Convention held at school.
1925 March School joined the Minnesota State High School league.
1926 May 15 students graduated.  Nine of them went to Gallaudet college.
1926-1951 Hi-Y Club.
1928-1932 Victor O. Skyberg superintendent.
1928 Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts
1928 October First out-of-state team, Wisconsin, here for homecoming.
1929 State Employees Retirement Association established.
1929 June American Instructors of the Deaf Convention here.
1930 Track and field inaugurated.
1930 Cub Scout troop organized.
1931 February First Military Ball.
1932 September New gymnasium occupied.
1932-1945 Leonard M. Elstad superintendent.
1933 Teachers join Minnesota Education Association.
1934-10-6 Football team defeated Wisconsin School and attended World's Fair in Chicago.
1934 Scout cabin occupied.
1934 Noyes Society reorganized with a Junior and Senior group.
1934-1941 The Hilltopper published by students.
1935-5-30 MAD 22nd convention held at the school.
1936 May Largest class to date: 10 boys and 21 girls.
1937-1940 Wrestling.
1938 September Pollard Hall for small children occupied.
1939 All employees except the superintendent classified in the State Civil Service.
1942 May Caps and gowns worn by the seniors for first time.
1943 Full time physical education teachers for boys and girls.
1944-1953 Drum Corps for boys and girls.
1945 Howard M. Quigley superintendent.
1948 Girls Style Show.
1951-3-22 Parent-Teacher-Houseparent Association organized.
1952 Dramatic Club organized.
1953 MAD held 30th convention at school.
1959-5-1 Supt. Quigley received honorary Litt.D. degree from Gallaudet College.
1958 School joined Centennial Conference.
1958-9-28 400 attended Parent-Teacher-Houseparent meeting.
1959 New power plant and maintenance shop unit.
1960 Installation of offset equipment in print shop.
1961 Teachers Association changed name to Minnesota School for the Deaf Education Association.
1963-5-30 CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION