The 120-year-old Oneida Stake Academy is located in Preston, Idaho. Amongst its alumni are two former presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Harold B. Lee and Ezra Taft Benson, as well as several living general authorities of the world-wide Church. Benson was also the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture following WWII.
Students walked the halls of the Oneida Stake Academy for over a century living a multitude of memories. Now there's a place to gather them.
Carpentry classes were offered in the basement of the Oneida Stake Academy in 1904. Today, the same columns pictured in this historical photo have been re-installed (right) where they will again grace the main room of the academy building’s basement.
(Note how nicely those young men are dressed as they work on their exceptional carpentry projects on the back wall.)
* This article recently appeared in the Tourist Edition of The Preston Citizen
By NECIA P. SEAMONS
Construction continues on the 121-year-old Oneida Stake Academy building as it is prepared to become a cultural center for the community upon its complete restoration.
The academy is the alma mater of U. S. Secretary of State Ezra Taft Benson as well as his upperclassman, Harold B. Lee, both who became presidents of the world-wide Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They and other philanthropists will be recognized in the building upon its restoration. The Oneida Stake Academy is one of the longest used of the approximately 35 academies built in the west by the LDS Church over a century ago. It is one of five still standing and the only one left in Idaho.
A $30,000 grant received from the National Scenic Byways Program last fall provided for the original cast-iron columns in the basement to be re-installed and for roof repairs to be made as soon as the weather clears.
“Installation of the columns and roof repair is a vital part of the restoration process and an important step that needed to be taken,” said Nathan Hale, chairman of the Oneida Stake Academy Foundation. Jeff Call, of Preston, installed the columns.
Restoration work on the academy advances as funds are raised for that purpose.
Once completed, the academy building will feature a museum of local history, a turn-of-the-century classroom, and an information center for the Pioneer Scenic Byway and gift shop. The entire top floor of the building will be available to the public for events such as weddings, receptions, reunions, concerts, art shows, etc. Rent for hosting such events will be used to maintain the building.
Additionally, the courtyard will increase the building’s value to the community as a location for outdoor receptions, concerts and dramatic presentations.
"Education in Zion" is a permanent exhibition on display at the Joseph F. Smith Building on the BYU Campus. Included in the display is information on the Oneida Stake Academy, which was first organized in Franklin, Idaho, in 1888. Two years later, construction began on the building which would house the Oneida Stake Academy in Preston. This is the building which is presently being restored for public use.
By clicking on the following link, you will be able to see a series of videos produced for that exhibition. Selecting the one entitled Academies in Every Stake
provides information that relates to the building of the academies across the west.