History

1880

Stephen G. Wentworth, President of the Morrison Wentworth Bank at the SW corner of Tenth and Main, founds Wentworth Male Academy, a boys' day preparatory school. Coprincipals Sandford Sellers and Benjamin Hobson enrolled 35 students for classes held in a church building at the SE corner of 18th and Main Streets, tuition $35.

1881

Hobson leaves, Sellers continues. S. G. Wentworth provides home at SW corner of 16th and Main for boarding students, 20 of whom joined 33 day students.

1882

Military training formally established, now oldest such program west of the Mississippi. Principal Sellers hires Captain Fleet who brings VMI terms of "rats", "rears", and "Old Boys" to the school. S. G. Wentworth provides Austrian muskets. Eighty students enroll; tuition, room and board $165.

1883

S. G. Wentworth purchases and donates nine acres south of 18th and Washington for a permanent campus. Location is occupied in December.

1889

Football introduced at Wentworth.

1890

Name changed to Wentworth Military Academy. Third major building,a barracks and library, (later band room) completed. A peak of 113 students enrolled with tuition $275.

1891

First enrollment drop which continued to a low of 62 in 1893. Superintendent Sellers wrote "strictest business management was required to weather the financial panic now prevailing".

1893

First issue of The Trumpeter published, a bi-monthly sold for 25ยข.

1895

Bought out Marmaduke Military Academy, Sweet Springs, Missouri, for $500, gaining good will, ordinance, and first active duty officer with government recognition. Third floor added to "D" Company; porch connection to Mitchell house built.

1897

S. G. Wentworth dies. Spanish American War is declared and 41 alumni enlist. Three give their lives.

1900

121 cadets enrolled. Tuition $300.

1905

Main building enlarged to east. Hickman Hall completed in 1907.

1908

Second enrollment peak at 219, tuition $350.

1914

Enrollment drops to 157 with the pacifist, isolationist mood prevalent in the U.S. ROTC authorized by Congress. West half of gym (present Student Union) built.

1917

Enrollment leaps to 377. The lower half of present campus (from Marine Hall to the hollow) purchased.

1918

Enrollment peaks at 519, tuition $550. Marine Hall, a wooden barracks is built. Baptist College leased for the junior school. 552 alumni serve in WWI, 16 killed in action. Last year of the cadet gray, choker collar uniform which is replaced by U.S. Army type uniform.

1920

East half of gym completed, East Barracks built for the junior school.

1922

Post WWI enrollment drops to 277, tuition $700.

1923

The junior college was established, elementary grades eliminated. Sandford Sellers, Jr. becomes Superintendent, succeeding his father who is named the President of the College.

1925

Rebekah Evans, Great Granddaughter of S. G. Wentworth, marries J. M. Sellers, son of Sandford Sellers, uniting founding family with the administrator family.

1927

The stadium is built and named Alumni Field. The first game is held November 11 against Principia Academy of St. Louis.

1928

Marine Hall building bricked.

1933

Depression low of 140 is reached, primarily cadets enrolled in junior college. Sandford Sellers, Jr. leaves Wentworth, J. M. Sellers becomes Superintendent. Coach Lester Wikoff joins the administrative staff in a partnership to last 40 years and reorganizes school finances to survive the Depression.

1938

Sandford Sellers dies after 58 years of service. Administration Building remodeled with two story porch columns providing a new look to upper campus.

1939

The first aviation class is organized with training at the Lexington Airport leading to a pilot's license.

1940

Enrollment rebounds to 310, tuition $900. Scholastic Building constructed., with the advent of WWII.

1941

Pearl Harbor and draft with no ROTC deferment practically wipes out junior college in January of 1942 but school fills with high schoolers, early college entrants, and Navy V-5 students to 400 capacity.

1946

Junior college rebuilds with the end of war and draft.

1948

The laundry with tailor shop is built.

1951

Wentworth reorganized financially as a not for profit corporation. Enrollment 405, tuition $1,200.

1955

Seventy-fifth anniversary celebrated at Founders Day with visit by former President Truman who addresses the corps and lays a wreath on the grave of S. G. Wentworth. Memorial Chapel is completed and dedicated to the more 2,000 alumni who served and 89 who were killed in WWII, initiating a period of remarkable building expansion.

1959

Sandford Sellers Hall completed and occupied, increasing capacity by 125 students. Enrollment 554, tuition $1,495.

1960

Colonel J. M. Sellers named President, Colonel Wikoff Superintendent.

1962

Scholastic Building expanded to the east, providing additional library space, science rooms, and departmental offices.

1966

Fieldhouse and swimming pool are constructed and dedicated.

1968

Former gymnasium redesigned as a student union. Enrollment peaks at 567 boarders, 72 day and faculty students. Holiday Inn, long a dream of Colonel Wikoff, is constructed under the financial leadership of WMA.

1969

An enrollment drop of 80 students signals the beginning of an eight-year enrollment decline resulting from the Viet Nam War backlash.

1971

Colonel Wikoff retires after 56 years of service, Colonel Leon Ungles named Superintendent.

1973

Colonel Ungles retires, J. M. Sellers, Jr. joins the school as new Superintendent and third generation head. Painful cuts made to survive severest threat since the Depression.

1975

Most disastrous fire in school history occurs August 7, destroys 32,000 square feet including "B" Company, military department, band room, rifle range, maintenance shops, and administrative offices.

1978

Post-Viet Nam enrollment bottoms out at 244 students in September, 329 by mid-year. WMA majority interested in Holiday Inn sold.

1980

Recovery is assured with a twenty percent jump to 395 students enrolled through mid-year. Tuition, room, and board $4,725. Finances much strengthened. The $4.2 million Second Century Fund Drive is launched. The first capital fund drive in the school's history. Vice President Mondale delivers Centennial Commencement Address.

1982

$1.5 million dollars is rasied by the fund drive, making possible the reconstructionof the exterior shell at the site of the 1975 fire.

1984

Alumni Marlin Perkins makes the Commencement Address. The armory and supply rooms at the north end of the new building are completed and placed in service over the summer.

2017

May 7th, Board makes the decision to close the school. May 13, 2017, Final Commencement Ceremony.