Dixie Academy Building

WASHINGTON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY     (Washington County, Utah)

DIXIE STAKE ACADEMY

(St. George Stake Academy, Dixie College, Dixie Junior College)

St. George, Utah

The St. George Stake Academy officially began in 1888 in the basement of the St. George Tabernacle. It moved into the Dixie Academy Building building in 1911. Both Dixie High School and Dixie College were housed in that building until the early 1960s when new campuses for both schools were built in other parts of the city.


LOCATION

86 S. Main Street
St. George, UT 84770

Northwest corner of Main Street and 100 South


HISTORY

The Dixie Stake Academy started under sponsorship of the LDS church in 1895. It began as a high school level institution.

The Dixie Academy building was started in 1909. The LDS church pledged $20,000 toward the construction and the community was to raise $35,000 in labor & materials. The building opened for classes in September of 1911, though some work continue on beyond that.

Eventually, the school became accredited as a junior college. The last two years of high and first two years of college were combined into a four-year curriculum. An agreement was worked out whereby the Washington County School District funded the first the first two years of a student's studies and the LDS church supported the last two years. It took the name, Dixie College.

In 1921, the LDS church began phasing out the church sponsored academies as unneccessary competitors to tax-supported institutions. But the Dixie Academy was spared for a number of years. It even added a two-year teacher training program. But as the Depression worsened, more church schools were closed. On January 31, 1931, the church announced it would stop financial support at the end of the 1930-1931 school year. It did offer $5,000 per year for the next two years to facilitate the transition to entirely state support. A deal was struck whereby the church donated the $200,000 campus to the state and after two years, the state would take over support of the school. During those two years, the school would be operated with the $5,000 yearly contribution of the church, Washington County School District funds, tuitions, and contributions from the community.

For a while, the school was known as Dixie Junior College.

In 1953, a special session of the Utah Legislature passed a bill to return Dixie College to the LDS Church (the original owner). This was widely supported in Washington County, but in 1954, a statewide ballot defeated that move.

Also in 1954, a project was begun to build a women's dormitory for the college, something that was lacking and very much needed. No state funds were available, but the effort was carried out anyway. Trailers were removed by some land near the college. Local funds were raised and mostly voluntary labor was used. The Dixiana Dormitory was completed in 1956.

During the 1955-1956 school year, it was determined that no more land was available to expand the campus downtown. The legislature was ready to appropriate funds for a new building, but no site could be found. So the idea of a brand new campus was considered. A plan was formulated and a new site selected. The Dixie Education Association, which had been accumulating funds for the support of Dixie College, bought six city blocks and turned them over to the state. In return, the state built a new gymnasium there which was completed in 1957 and agreed to gradually move the college over to the new campus. The move was completed by 1963.

Evolution of Institution Names:
St. George Stake Academy   (9/19/1911-??/??/1913)
Dixie Academy   (??/??/1913-??/??/1916)
Dixie Normal College   (??/??/1916-??/??/1923)
Dixie Junior College   (??/??/1923-??/??/1972)
Dixie College   (??/??/1972-??/??/2000)
Dixie State College   (??/??/2000-2/16/2013)
Dixie State University   (2/16/2013-Present)

Presidents:
Edward H. Snow   (Founder, Chairman of the Board; 1911-1932)
Hugh M. Woodward   (1911-1918)
Erastus Snow Romney   (1918-1920)
Joseph Kelly Nicholes   (1920-1923)
Edgar M. Jensen   (1923-1926)
Joseph Kelly Nicholes   (1926-1932)
B. Glen Smith   (1933-1938)
Glen E. Snow   (1938-1950)
Mathew M. Bentley   (1950-1951)
Dr. Ellvert H. Himes   (1951-1954)
Arthur F. Bruhn   (1954-1964)
Dr. Ferron C. Losee   (1964-1976)
Dr. Wm. Rolfe Kerr   (7/10/1976-1980)
Dr. Alton L. Wade   (1980-1986)
Dr. Douglas D. Alder   (1986-1993)
Dr. Robert C. Huddleston   (1993-??/??/2000)

Commentary by Mary Phoenix:
The citizens of St. George have always been very interested in education. We learn from the early records that the pioneers arrived in the Dixie Valley on December 6, 1861 and the first school was officially begun in a wagon box immediately.
Schools were built before badly needed homes. As the town became slightly more prosperous more schools were added and always the county taxed itself to the legal limit to support them.
At the end of the century they realized that as the older people died they had no teachers and any young person wanting more education had to be sent away from home to secure it. The fight to provide higher education for the youth of the community began. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints agreed to furnish $20,000 toward this project if the townspeople could furnish an additional $35,000. Then, when the building was completed, the church would accept it as a part of their educational system. The people were able to make contributions in the form of labor or provisions. And in 1911 the town of St. George celebrated its golden anniversary by opening the doors of the Dixie Normal School.
The building was three stories tall. Both the basement and the ground floor had six rooms and the third story was unpartitioned so that it might be used for physical education, classes, sporting events and town meetings deemed a little too secular for the Tabernacle.
The building has a black lava rock foundation. Although it would have been cheaper to construct the upper walls of the common red sandstone so plentiful in southern Utah, the people decided this building was worthy of the best so they chose the delicate pink Chinle stone from the quarry east of Washington. These stones were cut by hand and brought to St. George over the rutted roads on the running gears of farm and freight wagons and then hand dressed on the site.
In 1916, the Academy became Dixie Junior College, but in 1933, in the depth of the Depression, the L.D.S. Church announced it was discontinuing support. The financially strapped community managed to secure state sponsorship so Dixie College was kept afloat. It moved to its new campus in 1960.
Washington County took over the building for Dixie High School until this was moved to its present site in 1965. Then the city secured the facility for use as an art center.
With its beautiful rock work and much of its original wood panelling, it remains a symbol of all that is good in our Dixieland.


PHOTOS

Dixie Academy Building         Dixie Academy Building


Dixie Academy Building         Dixie Academy Building

WCHS photos:
WCHS-00545     Jon Bowcutt sketch of the Dixie Academy Building
WCHS-02633     Photo of construction of the Science Building at Dixie College
WCHS-02634     Photo of construction of the Science Building at Dixie College

Other photos on the web:
Postcard photos of the St. George Stake Academy building
Postcard photo of the Dixie Academy gymnasium
Postcard photo of the Dixie Junior College building with the gymnasium in the background
Photo of the dedication of the Dixie College Monument
Photo of the dedication of the Dixie College Monument
Photo of the dedication of the Dixie College Monument


REFERENCES

Historical Buildings of Washington County (Volume 1), pp. 12-13.

Douglas D Alder and Karl F Brooks, "A History of Washington County From Isolation to Destination"
pp. 230-237, 340

Washington County D.U.P.,
"Under Dixie Sun - A History of Washington County"
pp. 300, 302

Dixie Academy

Presidents of the Institution

Dixie Junior College Thirty-fourth Annual Commencement Program
Baccalaureate Services and L.D.S. Institute Graduation Exercises,   May 13, 1945
Commencement Exercises,   May 18, 1945