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In The Beginning

James H. Lemon, a member of the Missouri House of Representatives from Nodaway County, introduced House Bill No. 311, also known at the time as the "Nodaway County Normal Bill." Fighting against strong opposition in the House, Lemon is credited with establishing the Fifth District Normal School in Maryville, MO.The Old Seminary, which was the first Maryville teacher's academy, was built in 1890.The Seminary was located on First Street near present-day Memory Lane.The trustees of the Seminary agreed to sell the land and building to the City of Maryville on condition that it become part of the inducement to bring the Normal School to Maryville.The other inducement to get the Normal School was the Gaunt Nursery.  Pictured is a hand-written note by Thomas Gaunt on Gaunt Nursery Stationary.

Maryville had been enthusiastic about acquiring a higher education institution since the 1800s. A "Normal School" for teacher education was opened and was known as the Seminary, which was initially not state-funded, but rather financed by the Methodist Church. The Methodist Church had been supporting the construction of such schools since the 1830s. The Seminary in Maryville was built in 1889 and had a golf course in the front yard.