The History of Knoxville St. Alban's Academy for Boys
Knoxville (population 3,200) located in western Illinois in Knox County, just outside of
Galesburg. The community is accessible by taking either US 150 or Interstate 74, and was settled as Henderson in January 1831,
before its name was changed to Knoxville in December 1832 when it was chosen as the county seat. Knoxville remained the
center of the county until the county seat was moved up the road to Galesburg in 1873. The first county courthouse as
well as an earlier jail still stand in Knoxville as testament to this early period, as does the county's Hall of Records,
which doubles as the Knoxville City Hall.
St. Alban's Academy for Boys was opened in 1890 by Rev. Dr. C.W. Leffingwell, who also
created St. Mary's School for Girls in the city. The school was located in the building above, which was built for Ansgari
College in 1876 for the education of immigrants from Sweden in the area under the direction of the Evangelical Lutheran Church.
That school was a four-year college and offered a two-year course in theological studies as
well as a two-year academy for high school-aged students. After its start in Keokuk, IA as an outgrowth of "The Mission Institute"
in 1873, the school moved to Knoxville after the Hon. James Knox and Professor Charles Anderson raised more than $22,000.00
to build the building.
Ansgari College did not last long and closed several years later, winding up in the hands of the city of
Knoxville. St. Alban's occupied the building in 1890 as the Episcopal Church directed the daily affairs of educating
young men that attended. Dr. Leffingwell was able to enlarge and improve the school as it grew.
It is believed that St. Alban's remained in the building until the spring of 1919, when it moved to Sycamore in DeKalb County and took over Waterman Hall for Girls, which had closed the previous year. St. Alban's was closed for good in 1938 after financial difficulties
and lack of enrollment forced its shuttering.