Constructing a new building on any college campus today is a major capital undertaking. So it seems notable that The College of Idaho constructed a building for its Child Development Center. The center cost nearly $40,000 in 1950s Caldwell, with an additional $10,000 for equipment and furnishings. By the end of the decade, the lab school had become home to the Art Department.
C of I Archivist Jan Boles and emeritus professor of English Louie Attebery, who’s written on the college’s history, agree the lab school wouldn’t have been built without a push from Martha Pitman, wife of then-President Paul Pitman. Martha Pitman became the center’s first director.
“It was her influence that got the building constructed,” Boles said. “It’s pretty clear it wouldn’t have been built without her.”
“I think it was unusual to build a new building,” Attebery agreed, adding, “Martha had an unusually vital personality.”
Here is the chronology of the construction and opening of the Child Development Center as well as its more recent history:
Summer 1951: Dr. Paul Pitman is hired as president of the C of I.
September 1951: Pitman tells trustees of his plans for an expanded division of education, to include new courses in kindergarten. This would require the construction of a new building.
April 1952: The Board accepts low bid of $39,441 for the construction of a two-unit Demonstration School, where both kindergarten and first-grade classes will be taught. (The project was completed at a cost of just under $50,000, including equipment and furnishings).
Oct. 18, 1952: Announced dedication of the Child Development Center.
1953: C of I catalog includes announcements for 1953-54, describing new CDC program and staff. Tuition is $18 per semester per student.
Oct. 5, 1953: President Pitman tenders his resignation to the Chairman of the Board. However, the Board elects to admonish the President, reminding him that his job is to execute the policies of the Board. (Under Pitman the annual operating budget deficit steadily increases).
March 3, 1954: Pitman is fired and Professor Margaret Boone is appointed acting president. Subsequently, the first-grade component of the CDC (both space and classes) is leased to the Caldwell Public Schools. The C of I continues with the kindergarten component.
Oct. 11, 1954: Dr. Tom Shearer is appointed new president.
April 1955: Lease with Caldwell Public Schools extended. This arrangement continues through academic year 1957-1958.
1958-1959: No kindergarten classes are offered in C of I catalog.
1959-1960: CDC is renamed the Art Center and becomes home of C of I art department until 1995.
1996: Art Center building is leased to Caldwell Schools and is used for its Gifted/Talented program.
1999: C of I resumes direct use of the building. Original CDC/Art Center renovated and renamed the TEACH Center thanks to a grant from the Albertson Foundation. This becomes the home of C of I Department of Education. One of the classroom spaces becomes advanced computer lab.
2007: Department of Education is moved to Covell Hall and TEACH Center becomes general auxiliary space.
Summer 2010: The building is slightly remodeled and temporarily used to house scientific laboratory projects during renovation of Boone Hall Science Center. Since the fall of 2010 the building has been unused. It will become the site of a C of I Physician Assistant Program.
- Timeline compiled by College of Idaho Archivist Jan Boles from college catalogs and trustee minutes, with help from Dr. Don Burwell of the C of I Education Department.