Education in the early decades of Utah’s settlement was a very informal affair. Each Mormon settlement organized its own school and hired a teacher. For the most part, students attended school in small buildings that also housed church meetings, dances, and other community functions.
As early as 1867, Congregational, Presbyterian, and Methodist missions established private elementary and secondary schools. These were intended to counterbalance Mormon-controlled schools. With well-trained teachers and free tuition, they attracted many Mormon students.
To counter this trend, the LDS Church established its own system of schools, or academies, throughout the region and other areas where there were large groups of Mormons, including Mexico and Canada.
In 1890, the territorial legislature voted to establish free, tax-supported schools, with higher standards for teachers. Once this was accomplished, standardized school buildings were built throughout the state based on population requirements. Since then, school buildings have gone through various forms based on educational requirements, architectural trends, and population fluctuations.