Built in 1935-36, the Hinckley High School Gymnasium is part of the Public Works Buildings Thematic Nomination and is significant because it helps document the impact of New Deal programs in Utah, which was one of the states that the Great Depression of the 1930s most severely affected. In 1933 Utah had an unemployment rate of 36 percent, the fourth highest in the country, and for the period 1932-1940 Utah’s unemployment rate averaged 25 percent. Because the depression hit Utah so hard, federal programs were extensive in the state. Overall, per capita federal spending in Utah during the 1930s was 9th among the 48 states, and the percentage of workers on federal work projects was far above the national average. Building programs were of great importance. During the 1930s virtually every public building constructed in Utah, including county courthouses, city halls, fire stations, national guard armories, public school buildings, and a variety of others, were built under federal programs by one of several agencies, including the Civil Works Administration (CWA), the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), the National Youth Administration (NYA), the Works Progress Administration (WPA), or the Public Works Administration (PWA), and almost without exception none of the buildings would have been built when they were without the assistance of the federal government.
The Hinckley High School Gym is one of 233 public works buildings identified in Utah that were built during the 1930s and early 1940s. Only 130 of those 233 buildings are known to remain today and retain their historic integrity. This is one of 107 public school buildings that were constructed in Utah, 55 of which remain. In Millard County 10 buildings were constructed. This is one of 6 that remain, and one of 2 school buildings remaining of 5 that were built.
The Hinckley High School Gymnasium was built between 1935 and 1936. It was part of a larger Public Works Administration (PWA) project that the Millard County School District undertook that included, in addition to this building, a mechanical arts building at Delta High School and a gymnasium at Millard High School in Fillmore. Total cost for the 3 buildings was $130,000. Construction on all 3 buildings began in the summer of 1935 and was completed by June of 1936. The architects of all three were Carl W. Scott and George W. Welch, and the contractors were Talboe and Litchfield.
Carl W. Scott and George W. Welch were both prominent Utah architects. Scott was born October 17, 1887, in Minneapolis, Kansas, and graduated in 1907 from the University of Utah with a degree in mining. He was given credit for the idea of the concrete “U” on the hill that is still above the university campus. Following graduation he began a career in architecture as a draftsman for Richard Kletting. In 1914 he became partners with George W. Welch. Welch was born in Denver, Colorado, on May 15, 1886, graduated from Colorado College, and came to Salt Lake City to begin work as an architect. Active in political affairs while here, he was a member of the Utah House of Representatives from 1919 until 1921. Among the buildings that Scott and Welch designed were Salt Lake City’s Elks’ Club Building, South High School, the Masonic Temple, and many public school buildings throughout Utah including Hawthorne Elementary School and Bryant Junior High School in Salt Lake, Park City High School, Tooele High School, Blanding High School, and Cedar City Elementary School. They also designed a number of commercial buildings including the N. O. Nelson Manufacturing Company Warehouse, the Nelson-Ricks Creamery Building, and the Firestone Tire Company Building, all in Salt Lake City.
Millard Academy in Hinckley, Utah was built 1919-1910 by T. George Theobald with S.T. Whicker as the architect, it was the Millard LDS Academy until 1923 and then from 1923 to 1953 it was Hinckley High School.
The Millard Academy was built from January 1909 to September 1910 as one of nearly three dozen secondary schools that the Mormon Church built between 1875 and 1911 as rivals of both public schools and non-Mormon private schools. It is significant because it helps document the emergence of a secularized public school system in Utah and the adjustment of the Mormon Church to that system. In addition, it is a local landmark, expressing the continuing commitment of the citizens of Millard County to the value of education.
For a generation or so after the settlement of Utah, Mormons, who constituted more than 90% of the population, naturally dominated the territory’s public school system, and religious studies were an integral part of the public school curriculum. By the mid 1870s, however, as the non-Mormon population of Utah began to expand rapidly, the situation began to change. Efforts began to secularize the public schools, and non-Mormon private schools were rapidly established. To counter the “tendencies that grow out of a Godless education,” the Mormon church undertook several measures. It instituted a religion-class movement under which Mormon teachers taught “the Restored Christian Gospel” once a week after regular school hours to all pupils who would come, and it began to establish its own secondary schools. Brigham Young Academy at Prove was founded in 1875, followed by Brigham Young College at Logan in 1877, the Latter-day Saint College in Salt Lake City in 1886, and the Fielding Academy at Paris, Idaho in 1887.
The Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887 gave added impetus to the Mormon Church’s determination to establish their own secondary school system. Among other things, it required that Utah school laws, which had originally been designed to sanction and support a Mormon dominated public school system, be suspended; that the territorial schools be placed under the control of the territorial Supreme Court and a Court-appointed, and non-Mormon commissioner; and that the financial resources of the Corporation of the Church be disposed of for the use and benefit of the public schools. In response to the Edmunds-Tucker Act, church authorities called upon every Mormon stake to establish an academy in its area. Sixteen were established that first year, and ultimately thirty-five were founded in Utah, and in other states of the Intermountain West, Canada, and Mexico. They were supervised by a church superintendent of schools, a church board of education, and stake boards of education, and were modeled after the Brigham Young Academy in Provo and the Brigham Young College in Logan. By 1905, more than 60% of Utah’s high school students and a substantial portion of Mormon high school students in Arizona, Wyoming, Idaho, and Nevada were enrolled in Mormon academies.
The Millard Academy in Hinckley, Millard County, Utah was one of the last to be founded. Only the Dixie Academy in St. George was established later. In the fall of 1908, the church board of education decided to establish an academy in Millard County.
The choice of location was left to a vote of the Millard Stake High Council and the bishoprics of each ward in the stake. A lively debate followed over the location of the academy, with each town in the area lobbying on its own behalf, though there was widespread feeling that Fillmore, as the county seat and largest town, would probably be chosen. It was not, however, primarily, it seemed, because three saloons, were located in the town. In response to the criticism that tine presence of saloons meant that Fillmore did not offer a wholesome environment for students, the Fillmore town council promised to raise the licensing fee from $400 per year to $1200, thereby to drive the saloons out of business. Finally, however, the town of Hinckley, which had no saloons, was chosen as the site of the academy.
Construction began in January 1909 on eight acres of land near the center of town donated by local resident Joseph W. Blake. He also donated 40 acres of land out of town so that crop yields could help finance the building.
Construction proceeded under the direction of T. George Theobold. An early settler of Millard County, he was born March 26, 1874 in Duncan’s Retreat, Washington County, Utah, a son of Arthur and Jane Burgess Theobold. A carpenter and engineer by trade, lie was involved in the construction of many of Millard County’s early buildings, including the Millard County Courthouse, the Hinckley Elementary School, the Hinckley Relief Society Hall, and the Pratt Merchantile Store. Prominent in local affairs, he served on the Millard County Board of Supervisors, the Millard School District Board of Education, the Hinckley Town Board, and was mayor of Hinckley from 1928 to 1936.
The architect of the Millard Academy was Samuel T. Whitaker of Ogden. Born in Centerville, Utah, December 20, 1859, a son of Thomas W. and Elizabeth Mills Whitaker, he led a varied career, alternating periods of private practice as an architect with other pursuits. He traveled throughout the United States as a sketch artist, became associated with the Boston architectural firm of Paulson and LaVelle, doing field work for them in Utah, Montana, and Idaho; and was the superintendent of the Gibson and Sadler Mill, and then the Barnard and While Mill, both of Ogden. He also served as Ogden’s police chief for six months, and managed the Ogden office of the Utah Light and Traction Company for four years. In addition to the Millard Academy, he also designed the Mormon academies at Alberta, Canada; Oakley, Idaho; and Juarez, Mexico. Other notable buildings he designed include Ogden’s Orpheum Theater, Ogden’s First National Bank, the David H. Peery and the John Browning Houses in Ogden, the Ogden IDS Sixth Ward, and the Farmer’s Free Market in Salt Lake City. With Leslie Hodgson, another well known Utah architect, he designed the Eccles Building in Ogden. Active in the Mormon Church, he was President of the LDS Scotch-Irish Mission form 1888 to 1890 and first counselor in the Ogden LDS Sixth Ward. Involved in civic affairs, he was a member of Utah’s Food and Fuels Board during World War I and was Director of the Utah State Fair Association in 1919.”
The Millard Academy was completed at a cost of nearly $55,000, $23,924 of which was raised by members of the Millard Stake. Each ward in the stake was assessed a certain amount, as follows: Delta, $500; Hinckley, $10,000: Fillmore, $2000; Deseret, $1500; Oasis, $875; Holden, $1925; Kanosh, $1000; Leamirgton, $1000; Meadow, $1500; Oak City, $1250; and Scipio, $2125.
The Academy opened on September 13, 1910 with a faculty of seven people, including Principal Louis F. Moench, and 79 students, some from every ward in the stake. By mid-year, there were a total of 141 students.
The program dedicating the academy opened with a prayer, followed with the singing of “We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet,” and featured speeches by Stake President Alonzo A. Hinckley, Bishop Joseph Damron, Jr. and Bishop Joseph L. Stott.
The academy offered three years of work in three fields: normal (teacher training), domestic arts, and manual training. In addition, it offered special work in music, cooking, sewing, and woodwork, and remedial work for those too old to attend elementary school. Also, each student was required to take the following religion courses during his three years at the school: Book of Mormon; Life and Christ and New Testament; Old Testament; and History and Doctrine of the LDS Church.
As the last group of Mormon academies, including the Millard Academy, were being established, public high schools in Utah began to proliferate. Growth was particularly rapid after a 1911 amendment to the Utah Constitution that paved the way for better financing of a statewide public high school system. Thus, while in 1890, only 5% of all secondary students in Utah attended public schools, by 1911, half did, and in 1925, 90%.
As the public school movement grew, the Mormon Church, began to re-evaluate its educational policies. It was reluctant to give up its academies, however, until an alternative way could be found to provide religious instruction to Mormon’s of high school age. In 1912, Church leaders persuaded the Granite School District in Salt Lake City to approve the establishment of an experimental LDS Seminary near Granite High School. There religious instruction would be offered to high school students on a voluntary basis, with “released time” being granted by the school. If successful, such seminaries could provide religious training for LDS students at a fraction of the cost of maintaining regular church schools. Seminary classes began that fall and by the end of the decade had spread to other schools.
As the seminary program continued, the Church worked in close cooperation with state education officials, and in January 1916 the state board of education granted limited high school credit for released-time classes in Bible history and literature. This provided an important boom to seminary enrollment.
In the meantime, the state superintendent of public instruction discussed state concerns with the Church board of education and urged the Church to withdraw completely from secondary schools. The money saved, he suggested, could be used to establish good normal schools for teacher training, a seriously growing need in the state.
The Mormon Church was already sympathetic with the idea of better teacher training and especially concerned that public school teachers be well prepared in their academic subjects and also in turn with the spiritual and moral ideals of the Church. As a result of that concern, and the success of the released time seminary program, the Mormon church, in 1920, decided to convert some of its academies into teacher training institutions and transfer the others to local school districts for use as public high schools.
The Mi Hard Academy was one of those transferred to the state, and in 1923 became the Hinckley High School. In 1953. because o£ falling enrollment, the high school was eliminated and for the next 20 years the building housed the Hinckley Elementary School.
This sign, located in Payson says: “You are a fool for fighting your best friends, for we are the best and the only friends that you have in the world” wrote Brigham Young to the Ute Indian Chief Walkara in 1853, after the latter had engaged the settlers of Utah in their first major Indian war. Angered because the whites had put an end to the Indian slave trade in the territory and had encroached upon their lands, the redmen found a pretext for beginning hostilities at Springville, July 17, 1853, when an Indian, while beating his squaw, was killed by a white man. The following day Alexander Keele, a guard at Payson, was shot by Indians and the war was on. The policy of the white defenders was one of vigilant watch and limited offensive warfare. However, before Governor Brigham Young led a peace mission into Walkara’s camp in May 1854 that ended the conflict, 20 whites had been killed including the U.S. Government surveyor Captain John W. Gunnison, who was massacred with 7 of his men near the present site of Hinckley, Utah.