Saving the Oneida Stake Academy is saving a legacy of community spirit – Cache Valley Daily

Alexis Beckstead, the president of the Oneida Stake Academy Foundation, recently dressed up in disguise to give some elementary school age children a tour of the building.

PRESTON – For nearly 20 years, saving the Oneida Stake Academy has been a priority for many die-hard citizens of Franklin County. Construction of the Preston Academy began in 1880 and was completed in 1884. Community members formed a foundation and tried to preserve the historic building when it was moved from the Preston School District to its current location at 106 East Oneida in 2003.

Construction of the Oneida Stake Academy in Preston began in 1880 and was completed in 1884.

Necia Seamons has served on the Board of Directors of the Oneida Stake Academy Foundation for 18 years. She said the Preston building was one of five remaining academies.

At the end of the 19th century, 50 academies were built from Alberta in Canada to the Mormon colonies in Mexico. Many of the academies have been converted into state colleges and universities. Brigham Young University, Weber State University, Snow College, and BYU-Idaho were all once part of the academy education system, which lasted from 1870 to 1930.

Buildings still intact in Colonial Juarez, Mexico; Snowflake, arizona; Cowley, Wyoming; and one in Provo that has been converted into a beautiful public library“She said.” In the beginning it was about saving the magnificent building, but now it is not just saving a building, but something that reminds us of a people who valued their rights and cared about the education of their children Has decided.”

The transcontinental railroad brought Protestant and Catholic missionaries to the Utah Territory to build schools. Fearing that the educational environment at the time would evangelize students, Brigham Young founded the Brigham Young Academy in Provo in 1875 and another in Logan in 1877.

The schools were successful, and leaders at that time wanted to build academies in every Church stake.

“We have documented that over a million people are trained in the academy system,” she said. “People invested their time and talent to work at their school because they understood that it was up to them to provide their children with a good education.”

The federal government banned early members of Latter-day Saints from teaching in public schools, and leaders were concerned that their students would not get their dose of religion in schools. Parents and church leaders were also skeptical that their children would be educated without prejudice against their religion.

Historical descriptions tell of the people who worked on the historical building.

We can rebuild the building, but the people from back then gave so much of themselves“She said.” That was volunteer work. People were called on missions just to set up academies. “

The early church members were only 40 years away from Missouri and they built the academy.

“The concepts they learned were crucial because in our society today, people want the government to look after them,” said Seamons. “You cannot build a fellowship with the ‘me-first’ attitude. That’s why the building is important so that people can see the values ​​it takes to build a community. “

The only other buildings in the area that were built in the same way were the Logan Temple and the Logan Tabernacle.

“These buildings were built with the same values,” she said. “We can see what people are capable of when we work together towards a common goal.”

Alexis Beckstead, chairman of the Oneida Stake Academy Foundation, said it will be a beautiful building for the community to enjoy when completed and a venue for community events, concerts, and other productions.

“Before COVID occurred, we had repaired and replaced the stone on the floor of the building and around the windows,” she said. “We installed new windows and insulated the inside of the building.”

After the building was moved in 2003, it took a while for the building to be weatherproof and stable.

“It doesn’t look like it’s busy, but it’s always being worked on and moving forward,” she said. “We recently received some good grants from the Larry Miller Foundation and the George S. and Delores Eccles Foundation which have been wonderful. We also get some local grants. “

Alexis Beckstead shows the insulated walls of the Oneida Stake Academy, which are being restored.

She said they spent nearly $ 4 million moving the academy and building the foundation, stabilizing it, and putting a new roof on top. She reckons the interior will cost an additional $ 3 million to complete. That can change with rising building prices.

It’s a fun project and the potential of what we’re doing is going to have a huge economic impact on the community“, Said Beckstedt. “We have a lot of people from Logan who once lived in Preston who are interested in the progress of construction.”

Beckstead said people are reaching out to foundation members to see construction progress.

“We cannot open the building to the public for insurance reasons,” she said. “We will still have a booth on the exhibition grounds to answer questions and receive donations at the rodeo flea market.”

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