Gale College

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Gale College Historic District
Old Main Hall 2010
Location Twelfth St., Galesville, Wisconsin
Area 2 acres (0.81 ha)
Architectural style Italianate
Governing body Private
MPS Galesville MRA
NRHP Reference # 84004020[1]
Added to NRHP February 14, 1997

Gale College (also Galesville University and Marynook) was a private college in Galesville, Wisconsin. It was founded by George Gale, opening in 1854 and closed in 1939. Several religious denominations used the facilities as a college and later as a training school.


Judge George Gale went to college at the University of Vermont and moved to the western frontier in La Crosse, Wisconsin in the early 1850s.[2] After finding little interest in starting a college in La Crosse, he bought 2000 acres to start Galesville at a choice spot for his upcoming university.[2] The state of Wisconsin chartered the school in 1854 as "Galesville University" and he held the first classes in the county courthouse in Galesville.[2] The first class had 16 students including Gale's son George Gale, Jr.[2] Old Main was completed in 1862 and the campus becomes occupied in 1863.[3] Gale ran the nonsectarian college until 1865 and the school floundered while his health deteriorated during his involvement in the American Civil War.[4]

In 1865, the Methodist Episcopal Church took over the school and it held classes until 1871.[4] The Presbyterians took over until 1901 and changed the name to Gale College in the 1890s.[3][4] The Synod of the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church in America purchased the college in 1901.[4] In 1915, they build a new dormitory and gymnasium.[5] They constructed a new heating building in 1921.[6] The Lutherans suspended the school for the 1938-9 school year because of too small enrollment and closed it permanently in June 1939.[7][8]

The Society of Mary, Province of St. Louis purchased the buildings and 20 acres of land in 1941 for $10,000.[9] Its buildings included two dormitories, the main building, and a heat building.[9] The Catholic order used the buildings to train novitiate brothers and priests.[9] They named the school Marynook and operated the novitiate before it became a retreat in 1973.[10] It operated as a retreat until June 1994 when the city of Galesville purchased it for $150,000.[3] The city granted a 50-year lease in 2000 to the Garden of Eden Preservation Society.[3]

Founder's Day[edit]

Throughout the school's varied history, it held a "Founders Day" celebration on June 4.[2] A wreath was usually placed at George Gale's tomb and the grounds were typically open to the public.[11] The day celebrated Gale's founding of the school, his platting of Galesville, and his work to develop Trempealeau County.[11]

Historic Place[edit]

Several buildings on the campus were listed as a historic district with the National Register of Historic Places on February 14, 1997.[1]

Current use[edit]

Red brick building

The Old Main building is being restored by the Old Main Historical & Community Arts Center. The group rents out the building for events and holds fundraisers.[12] Volunteers are compiling the history of the area, building a digital database and collecting local genealogy information.[12] Another building is being used as a kindergarten.

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]

  • "A brief history of Galesville University, Gale College and Marynook" by Lucinda Oakland Morken.


  1. ^ a b Staff (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Gale College Founder's Day To Be Celebrated On Sunday". LaCrosse Tribune and Leader Press. 26 April 1935. Retrieved 30 April 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Chronology of Old Main - Galesville, WI". Old Main Historical and Community Arts Center. Retrieved 2 May 2012. 
  4. ^ a b c d "Gale College Founder's Day To Be Celebrated On Sunday". LaCrosse Tribune and Leader Press. 26 April 1935. Retrieved 30 April 2012. 
  5. ^ "Great Crowd Expected at Dedication Festival for Gale's College". Milwaukee Journal. 26 September 1915. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  6. ^ "Gales College to Open Sixty-third Year". The Blair Press. 18 August 1921. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  7. ^ "Galesville College Will Not Operate in '38 - '39". Telegraph-Herald. 25 August 1938. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  8. ^ "Wisconsin College Decides to Close". Telegraph-Herald. 15 June 1939. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  9. ^ a b c "Historic Gale College to be Catholic Training School". Milwaukee Sentinel. 25 April 1941. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  10. ^ "Founders Day Observed". Blair Press. 16 June 1977. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  11. ^ a b "Founders Day Program". The Blair Press. 1 June 1944. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 
  12. ^ a b "Old-fashioned fun planned this weekend in Galesville". Winona Daily News. Retrieved 1 May 2012. 

External links[edit]