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Permanent among the educational institutions of Baker County is the Baker City Normal and Business College which has just finished its sixth year of usefulness.
This school of education for business pursuits and the preparation of persons for the teaching profession, was organized January 10, 1887, by Mr. C. H. Whitney, a graduate of the National Business College. At first the branches taught included single and double entry bookkeeping, business penmanship, commercial arithmetic, business correspondence, etc. together with an actual business department in which the student received practical instruction in the branches passed over in theory.
During the autumn of 1890, Prof. A. A. Danford, of Forman, North Dakota, associated himself with the institution and established a department of normal instruction for the preparation of teachers for their profession.
The school has since that time continued as a normal and business college and has steadily advanced in popularity and success. During the last two years the school has been under the management of Sturgill & Sturgill, both well known business men of Baker City, who together with Prof. Sterling, of Portland, Oregon, are doing much to make the college a prosperous and permanent institution of the county.
In 1869, A. H. Brown, L W. Nelson, Wm. F. McCarty and R. A. Pierce organized an academy with Prof. F. Grubbs, principal. The school was conducted successfully by Mr. and Mrs. Grubbs for two and a half years and afterwards by Professor Barrett and others for several years, when the building and grounds were donated to School District No. 5. The house was sold to B. W. Levens and moved by him to Levens addition to Baker City, and the present school building was erected on the ground which it had occupied.
The Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary started a school in 1872, in a house on Court Street, east of Resort Street, with four pupils in attendance. In 1874 the Notre Dame academy building was erected near the Catholic Church at a cost of $3000, where school was taught by the same sisters until 1887. In that year the Sisters of St. Francis took charge of the academy.
In 1892 the residence of J. W. Virtue was purchased and fitted up for school purposes. The institution was named the St. Francis Academy – a school for young ladies, in which all the usual branches of an English education are taught, also fine needle work, music and drawing.
Laura C. Walters, corner Second Street and Valley Avenue gives lessons in vocal music and on the piano, organ, guitar or violin, and teaches type writing and Pitman’s system of shorthand.
Grace E. McCrary, a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music, teaches a class in elocution, physical culture and dramatic action.
Miss McCrary is a native of Baker City, where she attended the public school and Notre Dame academy. After taking a course of studies at the Conservatory of Music in Boston she was engaged as a teacher in that institution for a year and then returned to Baker City.