Freeman Junior College (South Dakota Mennonite College)

"South Dakota Mennonite College", was founded by F.C. Ortman, incorporated December 14, 1900.  In 1901 John Gross donated 3 ares of land to the school and the first building was constructed in 1902.  In 1903 the college opened with 109 students.  The 400 pound bell was installed above the buidling shortly after.  In 1904 the school had 130 students.  In 1908 the name was changed to Freeman College.  The first college building stands today as the Music Hall for the academy and a symbol of school history.  The college closed in 1986 but the Freeman Academy continues.

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Bell Tower

The first building of Freeman Junior College was built in 1901 and soon after a bell tower and 400 pound bell were added.  The bell was manufactured by the Meneely Bell Foundry in West Troy, New York in the late 1800's.  In the past year the College replaced the old wheel to ring the bell.


In the early 1900's pictures were taken from the Freeman College bell tower looking northwest, north, and northeast.  These pictures were taken left to right over different time periods.  In 2013 the pictures were taken again.

Above you see Helen Waltner's house and the Wollman house.  Both houses have been torn down and now are the parking lot for the Salem Home.  You can still see the Shanard elevator towards the top of the pictures and the St. Paul Church steeple on the right.


Notice the tree growth over the last 90 years.  Looking northeast today, you can no longer see the (A.T. Kaufman) house on the corner.  This was Leroy Graber's home in 2013.

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Freeman Junior College Dormitory
In 1906 the Men's dormitory "Old Dorm" was built and the Ladies Dorm "Campus House" in 1915.  The college gymnasium was built in 1923 and was used for 27 years until it was turned into the Thieszen Industrial Arts building.  Memorial Hall was dedicated in 1926 and became the administration building. In 1948 a Boys Dormitory was completed and a new gymnasium was built.  It was named Pioneer Hall and was dedicated in 1950.  In 1952 the Wollman house was bought and converted into apartments for staff housing.  The old dorm was torn down in 1964.  In 1986 Freeman Junior College was closed.  In 1947 two 100 foot barracks were purchased from the Sioux Falls Air Base for a boys dorm.  It was later renovated into apartments.
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Schmeckfest
The first Schmeckfest began as a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Freeman Junior College Women’s Auxiliary. There was a special meal to involve traditional dishes from each of the three Mennonite ethnic groups in the area; Swiss, Low Germans, and Hutters. Schmeckfest means “festival of tasting.”  In the spring of 1959, over a thousand people showed up for the first Schmeckfest, which was planned for 200. The other feature of Schmeckfest is the musical. Performances in the past have included Oklahoma!, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, The Hello, Dolly!, Music Man, Annie, and Fiddler on the Roof
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Teachers and Students