Bess Streeter Aldrich's novel Song of Years, the heroine,
Suzanne Martin, enrolls at the Prairie Home Seminary with
money won at a county fair horse race. Such a school actually
existed in Waterloo. It was founded in 1862 by two sisters,
Anna and Elizabeth Field, as a place where young ladies
could study English, Latin, mathematics, bookkeeping, spelling
and penmanship. Boys were later allowed to enroll, too.
at the corner of Park and Wellington was then on the outskirts
of Waterloo. The Fields purchased the site from Charles
Mullan and built a 40-foot square, two story brick building
for their school.
Tuition at the
Seminary was 50 cents a week. Enrollment usually averaged
about 40 students, though at times as many as 80 pupils
were taking classes at the Seminary.
operated the school until their retirement in 1898. The
building was torn down in 1901. Bricks from the building
were used in the construction of the apartments that now
stand on the corner. The Field sisters lived at 908 West
Third Street in Waterloo until their deaths in 1912.