Morris Pratt Institute
Morris Pratt Institute
The Morris Pratt Institute is the primary educational facility serving the National Spiritualist Association of Churches. It dates to the 1890s when popular Spiritualist minister/lecturer Moses Hull envisioned a training school to pass along the teachings of Spiritualism to a new generation, many of the first generation of Spiritualist leaders having already passed from the scene. He opened such a school in Ohio soon after the founding of the National Spiritualist Association (NSA) in 1893, but it survived only a few years. In 1901, Morris Pratt offered the mansion he had constructed at Whitewater, Wisconsin, to the NSA as a place to house a training school like the one Hull had begun. The large mansion seemed ideal; it had one room that could seat 400 people. However, the still-youthful NSA declined the offer, unable to see itself clear financially to manage the property. Pratt went ahead and incorporated the Morris Pratt Institute but died the following year before a school could be organized. Moses Hull picked up the vision in 1903 and organized the new school with himself, his wife and his daughter as the faculty. A few years later, the NSA organized a Bureau of Education. Through the person of Thomas Grimshaw, who succeeded Hull as president of the institute, the two organizations cooperated in the preparation of a course of study consisting of two parts: a general course on the "History, Philosophy, and Religion of Modern Spiritualism," and an advanced course on "Spiritualism, Philosophy, Mediumship, and comparative Religion," the latter completed by Victoria Barnes following Grimshaw's death.
The institute had a shaky history through much of the twentieth century. It closed during the Great Depression, reopened in 1935 but soon closed again. In 1946 the Whitewater property was closed and a new building to house the institute constructed in Wauwatosa, a Milwaukee suburb. In 1977 the building went through a complete renovation and rededication. The institute eventually merged into the NSA and is now its Educational Bureau. The institute is currently located at 111811 Waterplank Rd, Milwaukee, WI 53226-3340. Its website is at http://www.morrispratt.org/.