BYU-Idaho comes with a unique background and rich history dating back more than 125 years, according to Adam Luke, a librarian for the David O. McKay Library on campus.
“If you look into the early history of the school, you’ll see a lot of sacrifice and devotion to keep the school running,” Luke said. “I think that mindset is still evident. Frugality and devotion continues to be one of the main principles of operating the university.”
BYU-I, initially known as the Bannock Stake Academy, was first established in 1888 by pioneers, one being Thomas E. Ricks, according to Jerry C. Roundy, author of Ricks College: A Struggle for Survival.
Ethan Atwell, a senior studying history, said the school was built to teach children in a protected environment.
“Church leaders sent out a letter to all stake presidents in 1888,” Atwell said. “The letter informed them that an academy should be established for the education of the youth through the Bible, Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants.”
The Jacob Spori Building on campus today was built to replicate the original structure built in 1888, and original bricks with student names and dates can be found inside on the third floor, according to Remembering The Spori: The Jacob Spori Building 1903-2000.
Atwell said the original Spori Building was completed in 1903.
“The building was dedicated on Nov. 12, 1906, by Apostle John Henry Smith,” Atwell said. “It cost $63,475, and was used for the administrative offices, classrooms, an auditorium, gym, library, bookstore, art studios, radio stations and communication labs.”
Once established, the building was named after the school’s first principal, Jacob Spori. Principal Spori was well-educated and held many degrees. He dedicated his life to ensuring that the school would stay open through the difficult years ahead. He set the example of selfless service for other leaders and school officials to follow, according to BYU-I’s Building Web page.
Nick Rammell, the associate dean of students at BYU-I, said David Crowder’s book, The Spirit of Ricks, teaches a lot about the history of the school, and he believes the Spori building honors that history.
“I think the building is a witness of Principal Spori’s faith, obedience and consecration,” Rammell said.
While the school experienced its share of hardships, Luke said there were always those who were willing to sacrifice on behalf of the school.
“For example, Hyrum Manwaring sacrificed so much and gave additional effort to keep the school running through the Great Depression,” Luke said. “Even when there was a chance the Church would turn the school over to the state of Idaho, he continued to operate at a high level and make improvements to campus.”
Laura Warner, a BYU-I alumna with a degree in commuication, said she hopes the students and faculty will continue to keep Principal Jacob Spori’s legacy of selfless service alive, in order to maintain the university.
“I think the real value that we see from this school is not the buildings that have been built, but the administration and faculty that work at the school,” Warner said. “Those that work at BYU-I have been very successful in the world, and have chosen to come to BYU-I. They each make a contribution and teach us students when they could have chosen other lucrative paths.”