Black Hills State University
About Our College
The predecessor to Black Hills State University operated from 1881 to 1883 and was called Dakota College or Dakota Academy. Dakota College was funded by the Congregational Church and was not affiliated with BHSU. In 1883, in support for a new normal school, John Mauer put up a plot of land west of Spearfish Creek for sale for $800. Joseph Ramsdell collected money from donors and bought the land for $790.85. John Wolzmuth, Frank J. Washabaugh, and E.M. Bowman also gathered funds for the school. Established by the Dakota Territorial Legislature, the new school was called Dakota Territorial Normal School, and a temporary building was constructed in late 1883. Van Buren Baker became the first administrator and teacher at the school on April 14, 1884; he left Spearfish in December after leaving the school nearly bankrupt. The school reopened in September 1885 under the leadership of Fayette Cook; 70 students were enrolled at that time. The coursework initially consisted of high school classes and one year beyond high school. The Normal School Main Building was constructed in 1887 and stood until 1925. A laboratory school was opened in 1895 and lasted until 1963.