The Millersburg Military Institute is a former military school in Millersburg, Kentucky.


History

The first military school in Millersburg was Col. T.F. Johnson’s Female Seminary that opened in 1850, operating for two years. 4 It was a female branch of his military school that he established in Blue Lick Springs.

In September 1852, Rev. John Miller, pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, acquired the Baterton residence that had been used for Johnson’s Seminary and opened the Millersburg Male and Female Seminary. 5 It passed into the hands of Rev. George S. Savage and his wife two years later when enrollment had increased to 130.

The name of the school was changed to the Millersburg Male and Female Collegiate Institute in 1856. 6 The Kentucky Legislature formally chartered the school.

Rev. T.F. Shellman began work to establish a male and female conference school in September 1857. A building committee purchased grounds outside the city limits in 1858 and laid the foundations of a large school building. 7

The Kentucky Conference met in Millersburg in September to propose to the stockholders of the institute that, if they enlarged the building and converted it to a male-only college, the Conference would endow the school with $100,000. 8 The stockholders agreed to the offer. The Male Department of the Millersburg Male and Female Collegiate Institute was set off as the Kentucky Wesleyan College in 1859. The Female Department continued on as the Millersburg Female College in the building owned by Savage. 9

During the Civil War, male students attended the Millersburg Female College due to increased demand. By 1872, Rev. George T. Gould was associated with Savage in the control of the Female College. 10 In 1877, Gould became sole proprietor of the Male School.

The Female School was consumed in a fire on December 29, 1878 but continued to operate the very next day in rented houses throughout the city. A new structure for the Female College, begun in March 1879, opened in September. 9

Kentucky Wesleyan College suffered financial losses and the Gould had to relinquish proprietorship in 1884 to Rev. Morris Evans. 13 Evans gave up the position in 1885 to Rev. Cadesman Pope. In June 1897, Pope retired and Rev. C.C. fisher assumed the leading role. In 1890, the Kentucky Wesleyan College relocated to Winchester. 11

Fire once again struck the Millersburg Female College on October 9, 1907. 14 A new building was erected and in 1915, the Female College was renamed to Millersburg College.

Military Institute

The building that housed the Kentucky Wesleyan College was established as the Millersburg Training School by Col. C.M. Best of Virginia in 1893. 17 The condition of the building prohibited boarding any students inside until 1898 at which time the property was purchased by Col. Best from the Methodist Church. The school’s name was changed to the Millersburg Military Institute. 15

A new classroom building was constructed in 1903 that allowed the Institute to enroll 28 cadets. 17 Other buildings were later constructed to hike the enrollment cap to 70.

Best sold the campus to the Bourbon County Board of Education and the property became the Bourbon County High School in 1920. 15 During the first school year 1920-21, the Millersburg Military Institute was conducted by Col. Nelson and his assistants in one of the school buildings.

In spring 1921, the old Allen homestead in Millersburg was purchased and used as the administration building for the Military Institute. 3 15 Over time, six other buildings were to the 18-acre campus. 15 16 In the 1930’s, the Millersburg College became the home of the Junior Division of the Millersburg Military Institute. 14

The Allen House contained administrative offices, faculty apartments and the infirmary. Classroom facilities included Rankin Hall with 13 classrooms, an adjoining 6,000 volume library and four classrooms in the Memorial Gymnasium building. The cafeteria, which could seat 100 students, was housed in Gamble Hall’s upper level while the lower level was used as a student center and post exchange. Miller Hall was used as a dormitory for 70 students and three faculty members.

Moffett Hall was used for storage and Junior ROTC activities. The Rees Athletic Field was the location for football, soccer, baseball and track with tennis courts nearby.

Students were required to attend a church of their choice in Millersburg or Paris. 16

Troubles

Troubles began at the Millersburg Military Institute at the turn of the 21st century. The school closed during the school year in 2003 over financial concerns. After a flurry of support from parents and alumni through fund-raising, the students were able complete the year and have a commencement for the graduating seniors. 2

The school lumbered into 2004 facing declining enrollment. 1 By 2005, the debt load on the school approached $1 million, with its creditors not being able to extend the credit line. Once boasting 80 students in 2003, the military school had 45 students by early 2006.

Alumni began to look at other options for the school, including the possibility of a sale. One of the plans involved rebranding the school as the Forest Hill Preparatory School to attract a more diverse student body and boost enrollment. 1

To try and fund the conversion and pay teachers, an auction of school and military memorabilia took place in July 2006. 1 After the fundraiser failed to generate enough money, plans for rebranding were dropped in June.

The plans to de-emphasize military education also caught the ire from many alumni who took the conversion news with disappointment. 2 The lack of support from much of the alumni, as a result of the plans, drove many to stop financially supporting the school.

Millersburg Military Institute closed on August 10, 2006 after 113 years of operation over a growing debt of $2 million. 1 Unlike its previous closure in 2003, there was not an outpouring of support for the reopening of the school. No ceremony was conducted and the school’s website was taken off-line within days of closure. 2 Many, including the wife of the president of the school, was “left in the dark” about its closure.

Reopening

The United States Army Cadet Corps purchased the Millersburg Military Institute on September 12, 2008 with the goal of converting the site into its new national headquarters as well as a training center for various Corps summer training programs. 18 The Corps, based in Dayton, Pennsylvania, wanted to offer an “army-oriented career exploration” program for males and females aged 12 to 18. The program’s intention was to give students a firsthand view of military life.

The Corps had earlier planned to convert their Dayon location into the new headquarters after purchasing it a year prior, but shifted direction after locating the Millersburg location for sale on eBay. 19 The Deposit Bank of Carlisle, who assumed control of the property in Kentucky, had listed it on the auction website.

The Corps hosted the first Millersburg Military Ball on April 24, 2009, with a keynote speech by James McEachin, an actor and a Silver Star and Purple Heart veteran of the Korean War who was also an Army Reserve Ambassador and a member of the U.S. Army Cadet Corps Board of Advisers. 20 The city of Millersburg hosted the Parade of Cadets on the following day that evolved into a celebration of military heritage with groups from across the Mid-Atlantic converging on the city. 21 More than 30 units participated in the commemoration of the long history of Millersburg Military Institute.

In August 2012, Forest Hill Military Academy reopened on the grounds of the former Millersburg Military Institute. 12 The Academy included a residential military high school and junior college.

Closure

In March 2013, a Pendleton County mother filed suit against the Corps. 24 The suit alleged that a former camp instructor made sexual advances against her son, and also alleged misconduct against her daughter by a fellow cadet.

In June, a fire inspector ordered the Corps to evacuate 70 teenagers and some staffers from two buildings after finding safety concerns. 24 The concerns included electrical wiring hanging from ceilings, kids sleeping next to exposed wiring, missing fire extinguishers, broken fire alarm systems and missing or defective smoke detectors.

Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway filed suit in the county against the Corps in August 2013. 24 The remaining leadership and board members of the Corps resigned as the attorney general’s office investigated concerns of mismanagement. A court appointed receiver was put in place to oversee the school’s finances and day-to-day operations until a new board was installed.

In September, following a Kentucky State Police investigation, a Bourbon County grand jury indicted a former school employee on three counts of first-degree sexual abuse. 24 In December, the court-appointed receiver filed an affidavit alleging that former Corps employees were interfering with the school’s operation.

Forest Hill Military Academy closed its boarding program in December 2014 over low enrollment. 22 It reopened in August 2015 as the Millersburg Military Institute, 23 focusing on holding camps for high school youths. 22

U.S. Army Cadet Corps filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September 2015. 22 The Corps listed its assets as between $1 million and $10 million with its liabilities as between $500,000 and $1 million. The school was in default on loans to Farmers Deposit Bank in Carlisle. It had not made payments since August 2014.


Buildings

Allen House

Gamble Hall

McIntyre Hall

Miller Hall

Roger C. Womack War Memorial Gymnasium

Sources