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Pratt, Morris (1820 Madison Co., New York - 1902 Whitewater, Wisconsin USA)
Institution / Country:Morris Pratt Institute - Milwaukee, WI, USA

From the Morris Pratt Institute:

In 1888, Morris Pratt bought property and constructed the most expensive home in Whitewater, Wisconsin. It contained two large auditorium halls, one of which seated nearly 400 people. Pratt designed the building as a temple and a school for Spiritualism.

At the Ninth Annual convention of the National Spiritualist Association held in Washington, D.C., Morris and Zulema Pratt presented a letter to the N.S.A. offering them the properties in Whitewater, Wisconsin to be utilized "for educational purposes along the lines of the Moses Hull and A.J. Weaver Training School with such alteration in systems of teaching and curriculum as educators may think it wise to make."

On November 2, 1901, he filed a petition for incorporation which resulted in the Morris Pratt Institute becoming a corporation on December 11, 1901.

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From the Wisconsin Historical Society:

Spiritualist, and founder of Morris Pratt Institute. Born in 1820 in Madison Co., New York, he came with his brother to Milton about 1850, where he created a successful farm. Pratt became an ardent spiritualist in the 1850s, when seances, spirit knockings, mediums, and trances were much in vogue, and vowed that if he were ever wealthy he would give his fortune to support the movement. About 1884, he followed the advice of mystic Mary Hayes Chynoweth and invested his small savings in the Germania and Ashland mines in the Gogebic Iron Range. In a few months he sold his shares for $200,000 and, true to his word, in 1888 began building an edifice in downtown Whitewater to house his spiritualist institution. Known locally as "Pratt's Folly," it was not finished or occupied until after his death in 1902, when the Morris Pratt Institute registered its first students.

Photo from the Morris Pratt Institute