The Oneida Stake Academy was constructed with hand-hewn rock by Mormon pioneers between 1890 and 1895. Its purpose was to provide an inspirational setting for their youth to obtain a first-class education, despite frontier challenges. Of 35 academies built by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) in the West. Oneida is one of the few surviving buildings and the only one in Idaho.
Joseph Don Carlos Young, a son of Brigham Young, designed the building. German immigrant, John Nuffer, was called on a mission to build the academy. He apprenticed his trade on castles in Germany. Architectural features include a wooden belfry, stone quoins, entry archway, and an imposing staircase. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.
Many of its alumni, and of its successor, Preston High School, went on to national fame: Ezra Taft Benson, (see caption below); Harold B. Lee, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 1972-73; Samuel Cowley, inducted into the FBI's Hall of Fame for efforts to take out infamous mobster Baby Face Nelson in 1934; and E.G. Peterson, president of Utah State University 1916-1945.
In 2003, the Academy was schedule to be razed by the Preston School District. A few hours before the contract was awarded the friends of the academy raised $1.3
million dollars to move it. The 1,659-ton building was moved 2.5 blocks to this site over a 10-day period. To make repairs, rock from the building's original quarry was cut and chiseled to match the work of the academy's pioneer builders.
The building is now a community center-museum of local history, and an information center for travelers along the Pioneer Historic Byway.