Proctor Academy Helped Educate Provo’s Youth.
Formal education developed very slowly in early Provo. By 1855, only slightly more than half of Provo’s eligible students attended school. It was not until the 1860s that Presiding Bishop William Miller convinced each Provo ward to build its own schoolhouse. Education took a large step forward in 1875 wen Brigham Young Academy opened its doors. It educated students from all levels and tuition was required.
As more non-Mormon families moved to Utah, other Christian denominations established schools in Utah. In 1883, the Congregational Church established one of its missionary school in a small rented building in Provo. Not more than 15 students initially attend it but the number of students grew rapidly.
Substantial support from Joseph O. Proctor, a wealthy eastern benefactor, enabled the church to erect Proctor Academy, a substantial brick building which sat on the northwest corner of 100 West 100 South. The new structure contained an assembly hall, classrooms, and a library. It eventually included all grades from primary to advanced. Students came from all parts of the territory and from all classes of society. At its peak, Proctor Academy enrolled over 200 students a year.
Schools sponsored by the Congregational Church earned the reputation of being some of the best in Utah. All of their teachers earned normal school training in eastern schools. Parents paid no tuition for students in the primary grades, and advanced students paid only a dollar a term.
In 1890, Utah passed a law providing free public education for its students, but it was not until 1912 that the Provo Board of Education agreed that a free high school should be established. After Provo High School opened, the importance of Proctor Academy began to decline, and the school closed in 1917. The Provo Elks Club bought the building in 1923 and converted it into an Elks Lodge. Several decades later, it was razed to make room for commercial buildings.