Milton College

Milton College was a private college located in Milton, Wisconsin. Founded in 1844 as the Milton Academy, it closed in 1982. Its campus is now part of the Milton Historic District.

Milton College
Location, ,
United States
ColorsBlue and Brown before 1964 Blue and Gold after 1964[1]
Sporting affiliations
National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics


The college was founded as the Milton Academy (high school) by a group of early Milton settlers, including Milton House owner Joseph Goodrich. It eventually grew to encompass 16 buildings spread over 24 acres (97,000 m2). Its music department was renowned, and a high percentage of foreign students for the era kept the student body diverse. Although initially many of the students came from Milton, in later years alumni of the college would stay in Milton or return.[2]


On May 15, 1982, Milton College abruptly closed its doors. At the time, it was Wisconsin's oldest continually operating college.[2] The college's board of trustees had voted 18-2 to close the campus following a notification from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools that the college's accreditation would be dropped in the fall term; it had previously been on probationary status. The decision from North Central stemmed from the college's continual shaky financial situation, which culminated in a $4 million debt. Milton College had, in fact, been struggling financially since the Great Depression, 50 years earlier. Without accreditation, the college would not have seen any federal loans or grants, adding to an already difficult situation of decreasing student enrollment. Furthermore, it would have no longer been able to compete with schools in the Wisconsin State University System.

Some 135 students had been planning to come back to campus when the school closed, many with only a few credits left until completion of their studies. Officials negotiated with other campuses to accept Milton students.[3]

Campus life


The college was a member of the NAIA and participated in the sports of baseball, basketball and football.


Milton fielded its first football team in 1899 and its last in 1981. No teams were fielded from 1904 to 1915 and from 1943 to 1945. During this time the college produced seven All-Americans and nine conference titles, in 1935, 1956, 1961, 1964, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1980, and 1981. The Wildcats played in 419 games during this time with a record of 194–207–18.[4] The school was a member of the Illini-Badger Football Conference from 1976 to 1982.

Greek life


No fraternities or sororities were on campus after 1977 due to falling attendance.[5]


  • Fides - The college yearbook
  • Milton College Review – student newspaper
  • WVMC-AM – college radio station [6]
  • WMDF-FM – college radio station [7]

Campus adaptive reuse

When the school closed, the buildings were turned over to the banks that kept it alive over the years. Most of the buildings have been converted to commercial or residential use.

  • Main Hall is maintained by the Main Hall Preservation Society, and serves as a memorial to the college. Portraits in the building commemorate faculty and alumni over the years.
  • The library is now the Shaw Community Center, owned by the City of Milton. It houses both city hall and the Milton Public Library.[2]
  • The dorms have been converted into apartment buildings.
  • The gymnasium is the home of CrossPointe Community Church.

Notable alumni

Notable faculty


  2. Carla McCann (June 24, 2007). "Buildings, memories are all that remain of Milton College". Janesville Gazette. Archived from the original on 4 December 2008. Retrieved 2007-06-24.
  3. "Milton has its Black Friday". The Milton Courier(Milton, WI) 27 May 1982: 1, 20.
  8. "BOLLES, Stephen, (1866 - 1941)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved November 21, 2013.
  9. 'Wisconsin Blue Book 1925,' Biographical Sketch of Hellen M. Brooks, pg. 664
  10. Siddall, John William, ed. (1917). Men of Hawaii. 1. Honolulu: Honolulu Star-Bulletin. p. 95.
  11. "HOLMES, Adoniram Judson, (1842 - 1902)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved November 21, 2013.
  12. "Dave Kraayeveld". Retrieved November 21, 2013.
  13. "Dave Krieg". Retrieved November 21, 2013.
  14. "LAWS, Gilbert Lafayette, (1838 - 1907)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved November 21, 2013.
  15. "Issue 3 Fall" (PDF). Milton College Preservation Society. Retrieved November 21, 2013.
  16. 'Wisconsin Blue Book 1885,' Biographical Sketch of Christopher J. Rollis, pg. 429
  17. "Term: Smith, Charles P. 1926". Wisconsin Historical Society. Retrieved November 21, 2013.
  18. "Francis "Borax" Marion Smith - The Borax King of Death Valley". Legends of America. Retrieved November 21, 2013.
  19. "MAJOR GENERAL DON S. WENGER". US Air Force. Retrieved November 21, 2013.
  20. "Albert Whitford, eminent astronomer and former director of Lick Observatory, dies at 96". UC Santa Cruz. Retrieved November 21, 2013.
  21. "Term: Whitford, William Clarke 1828 - 1902". Wisconsin Historical Society. Retrieved November 21, 2013.
  22. The Sabbath Recorder. George B. Utter. 1917. p. 11.
  23. "Term: Searing, Edward 1835 - 1898". Wisconsin Historical Society. Retrieved November 21, 2013.
  24. "ELLSWORTH SNYDER". Jennifer Norback Fine Art, Inc. Retrieved November 21, 2013.

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