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University of Minnesota West Central School of Agriculture

The present UMM campus was home to the West Central School of Agriculture from 1910 until 1963. The University of Minnesota residential high school emphasized classes in home economics, business, industrial arts, and agriculture. The academic year was scheduled around the Minnesota growing season with classes beginning after the harvest in October and dismissing in late March before planting. Throughout its history, seven thousand students attended the West Central School of Agriculture. The school was an important educational center for west central Minnesota.

WCSA Alumni Association
The West Central School of Agriculture Alumni Association is an active and appreciated presence at UMM. Their elected board meets three times per year. AlumNEWS, the alumni association newsletter, is published in the spring and the fall. The fall 2008 issue is available to read online in PDF format. Acrobat Reader is needed in order to read the PDF. It can be downloaded free at http://www.adobe.com.

Each summer, the WCSA Alumni Association holds its annual all-class reunion on campus. The weekend includes tours, food, fun, fellowship, and reminiscing. The 2008 reunion took place July 19 on the UMM campus. Mark your calendars for next summer's All-School Reunion to be held at UMM on July 18, 2009.

Click here for photos of the 2008 summer reunion.

The WCSA alumni host a winter reunion in Arizona each February. The 2009 gathering will be held on Monday, February 9, 2009, at the ViewPoint RV and Golf Resort located at 8350 East University Drive in Mesa, Arizona.

Cllick here for photos of the 2008 Arizona winter reunion.

Alumni snowbirds in Texas gather for an informal winter luncheon. In 2009, they will meet at Mr. Gatti's Pizza at 4100 North Second Street in McAllen, Texas, on Tuesday, February 17.

WCSA Alumni Garden
The WCSA Alumni Garden, a gift to the campus from the WCSA Alumni Association, is located in front of the Education building. A beautifully designed flower garden, planted each spring by the WCSA Alumni Association, surrounds a memorial to the WCSA students and alumni who served in WWI, WWII, the Korean Conflict, and the Viet Nam Conflict.

To enjoy a slide show of the garden, click here.

Recognized by National Register of Historic Places
In 2001 during a WCSA Alumni Association board meeting, the directors wondered about the historic significance of their alma mater and the uniqueness of its mission as a U of M agricultural boarding school for regional high school students. They discussed preservation of the beautiful old buildings that served the WCSA. That casual conversation initiated an intensive two-year project, a collaboration between UMM and the Minnesota State Historical Society, to research WCSA history and to apply for National Register placement. In the spring of 2003, The National Register of Historic Places recognized the campus as the West Central School of Agriculture and Experiment Station Historic District. The district is composed of 18 buildings and 42 acres that served the WCSA between 1910 and 1963 and continue to serve UMM today.

Dennis Gimmestad '73, Minnesota Historical Society preservation officer states: "The Historic District is one of the best preserved agricultural high school campuses in the United States, and it has important associations with progressive education and research efforts in our agricultural history. Architect Clarence Johnston Sr.'s craftsman and colonial style buildings, set in Morell and Nichols' orderly landscape plan, served the high school for five decades. More recently, UMM successfully added contemporary buildings to the campus edges, while preserving the historic core as the heart of the University's liberal arts community."

Gemini Research of Morris, a historic preservation consulting firm owned by Susan Granger '80 and Scott Kelly '77 wrote the successful 75-page nomination and compiled supporting information. The document, which includes maps, drawings, letters, newspaper reports and interviews, illustrates the WCSA and Experiment Station's historical significance in the region, in the state, across the nation and around the world.

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of historic properties recognized by the United States Government as worthy of preservation for their significance in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering and culture.

If you would like more information on the WCSA Alumni Association, please contact the Office of Alumni Relations at 320-589-6066, or alumni@morris.umn.edu or write us at:

UMM Office of Alumni Relations
HFA 123
600 East Fourth Street
Morris, Minnesota 56267