Kemper Military School Legacy & Alumni
The official Kemper Military School Alumni and College Alumni association website. -- Kemper Military school was a private military academy located in Boonville, Missouri. Kemper filed for bankruptcy and closed in 2002. The school's motto was "Nunquam Non Paratus" (Never Not Prepared).
According to Wikipedia Kemper Millitary School, on June 3, 1844, Frederick T. Kemper gave his first lesson at the Boonville Boarding school, an all male school designed to educate the sons of the frontier west. It started as a one room schoolhouse on the corner of Spring and Main Streets, and opened with just 5 students. The Fall of 1844 it had 50 students. The south wing of the lon time administration building constructed in 1845 and was utilized as both a boarding school and a classroom.
Names of Kemper Through the Years:
Boonville Boarding School, 1844-1845.
Boonville Male Collegiate Institute, 1845-1854.
Kemper Family School, 1854-1856.
Kemper and Taylor's Institute, 1861-1865.
Kemper's Family School, 1865-1874
Kemper Family School, 1874-1896.
Kemper School, 1896-1899.
Kemper Military School, 1899-1923.
Kemper Military School and Junior College, 1923-2000.
Kemper Military School, 2000-2002
In 1856 the school closed when Professor Kemper accepted a teaching, administrative position at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri.
In 1861 Professor Kemper returned to Boonville and reopened the school as the Kemper & Tayllor Institute in partnership with his wife's brother, Edwin H. Taylor. It was one of only a few schools in the state to remain open during the Civil War, partly due to professor Kemper's willingness to accept female students for the first time.
After the civil war, Taylor left and the school again became all male and was known as Kemper Family School until Kemper's death in 1881.
After Kemper's death, Thomas A. Johnston was named as the president and placed in control of the school. Johnston guided the school through its largest period of growth and established its national reputation and Johnston over saw the transition to a military school. The school officially changed its name to Kemper Military School in 1899, and began to advertise itself as "The West Point of the West".
Oklahoma's Will Rogers attended the school in the 1890's and went on to gain worldwide fame as an actor, humorist, political commentator and performer until his untimely death in a plane crash in 1935.
An unprecedented expansion of the campus occurred from the period of 1900 through 1925. In 1904 the physical plant began when "B" barracks was enlarged; then Math Hall was built in 1906 originally as a gymnasium; A barracks was erected in 1909; D barracks in 1917; and the Johnston field house and the indoor pool were constructed in 1924.
It was during World War I when enrollment soared, peaking at 502 students in 1918 -- almost more than the school could handle. Enrollment remained strong, in the mid-1930's. That is also the time when my Uncle Robert Lee McGill attended Kemper, 1937-1938.
Wikipedia also states, "The Kemperite was first published in 1912. Kemper's Standard of Honor was introduced in 1915. A formal ROTC program was begun in 1916, and in 1923, a junior college was added. By that time, the annual football game with rival Wentworth Military Academy and College in Lexington, Missouri had become a huge event on Thanksgiving, with both corps of cadets boarding trains and sometimes meeting on a neutral field in Sedalia or Marshall, Missouri. The Kansas City and St. Louis newspapers referred to the gridiron battle as the "Little Army-Navy Game", and gave front page coverage to the outcome."
In 2003, the Kemper facilities were auction and bought by the City Boonville and known as Frederick T. Kemper Park. The park contains 46 acres and 10 buildings on what was formerly the Kemper campus. The City currently has plans to retain ownership of the T. A. Johnston Field House and of 30 acres of open space. Johnston Field House is currently home to the Boonslick Heartland YMCA and contains a cardio theater, weight room, aerobics room, 25-yard indoor pool, indoor batting cage, office space and 3 basketball courts.
The Park also contains a regulation football field, soccer fields, lake and two baseball fields. The city hopes to rehab the five tennis courts. Additional development will be deferred until a Master Plan is conducted to determine the best use of the space. The remainder of the core campus is being marketed by Boonville's Industrial Development Authority. The campus is on the National Register of Historic Places.
In September and October 2007, Kemper's abandoned campus was used for location shots of the movie, Saving Grace, about a little girl's trip back to Boonville in the summer of 1951, the year of the great Missouri River flood.
Many downtown Boonville buildings were used for filming, with Kemper used as an asylum. The movie was directed by Connie Stevens and stars Penelope Ann Miller, Tatum O'Neal, Joel Gretsch, Piper Laurie and Michael Biehn. The movie was released in 2008.
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