The History of Interior Academy, Dakota
Dakota, Illinois (population 499) is located 10 miles northeast of Freeport along Illinois Route 75 in northeast
Stevenson County in Northern Illinois. It is about 25 miles northwest of Rockford along Trask Bridge/Cedarville Road. Dakota
currently has a public high school, but once had a private academy for high school-aged students called the Interior Academy.
Interior Academy was first formed as the College of Northern Illinois in 1882, under the leadership of local
pastor Frank Werzel. That closed in 1897 and became a high school called the Interior Academy of Northern Illinois. At that
time, Dakota High School had not been established. The Academy was known for its challenging education. It is cited in the
1970 history of Stevenson County that " ... many students went to the academy for a year or two, but few ramined to graduate."
Rising costs and enrollment decline forced the school to cease high school curriculum operations in 1913,
but was used as a K-8 boarding school until the 1963-64 school year.
The building's fate was soon realized after the closure. It was left for neglect and was torn down in 1965.