MILTON — Milton College alumni and friends are invited to gather for the Great Wildcat Tailgate on Saturday.

The dedication of a new Milton College historical marker will take place at noon at Milton Public Library, 430 E. High St.

An open house at Main Hall, 513 College St., will offer a look at ongoing renovations of the 1855 building. A tent will be set up on the grounds for an afternoon tailgate. Hotdogs, brats, water and soda will be provided. Donations are appreciated.

The tailgate this year is in place of the traditional September homecoming hosted by the Milton College Preservation Society.

Throughout 2019, Milton College Preservation Society is commemorating the 175th anniversary of Milton Academy.

In 1844, a grout building erected by Joseph Goodrich became the home of Milton Academy, the predecessor to Milton College. When the academy opened, it had 70 students. Tuition was $3 a term and boarding with city families cost $1 to $1.50. For more than three years, the academy was a select school until the Wisconsin Territory granted it an act of incorporation.

In 1854, the academy received charter status, which brought students from as far as Nebraska and Kansas.

When the grout building had to be abandoned, Goodrich donated 2 acres of land on the south side of the village. There, a three-story building, which became known as Main Hall, was built.

Beginning in 1867, the academy ran in conjunction with the college and in 1902, it became the Preparatory Department. That closed in 1917.

The State of Wisconsin chartered Milton Academy as four-year college in 1867. Milton was a pioneer in education and helped establish the states system of Normal schools, which became the University of Wisconsin System. The college offered a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science and had courses for students looking to become teachers.

Enrollment climbed to more than 800 during the Vietnam War and leveled off to around 700 by the early 1970s, but by 1982 fell to 210 students.

Due to low enrollment and financial problems, Milton College closed in 1982. However, through the Milton College Preservation Society, “The Spirit Lives.”

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