In 1874, McCalla became Indiana's first female school superintendent as the head of the Bloomington public schools. Former student William Lowe Bryan became a teacher for the Bloomington schools before heading to IU. Of his former superintendent, Bryan effused that McCalla was "one of the most noble personalities" that he had ever had the pleasure of knowing.

McCalla was so beloved that when she announced her resignation as superintendent in 1889, she received a letter saying that the Board of Trustees for the city's schools had met to discuss her resignation, and "It was resolved that they do not accept and that they ask you to reconsider your action, earnestly hoping you will see the matter in the same light." She also received a letter, signed by 14 teachers, saying, "We beg of you to reconsider your resignation. Do not leave us. We feel that no one can take your place and be to us what you have been."

In 1908, the city of Bloomington voted to honor the beloved educator by dedicating the recently completed school at 9th and Indiana as the Margaret H. McCalla School. University Collections at McCalla hopes to carry on Margaret McCalla's passion for education and service to the Bloomington community.

Source material for the life of Margaret McCalla: "Margaret Hemphill McCalla 1836-1912," booklet. Alpha Chapter, Delta Kappa Gamma, Bloomington, Indiana, Monroe County Public Library, 1942. Available online via Indiana Memory Digital Collections

After it had served Bloomington elementary students for 66 years, Bloomington decided to retire the McCalla school in 1973.

By 1978, the McCalla School was acquired by Indiana University and served the IU School of Art + Design for many years, most recently as production spaces for IU students and faculty (including a wood and metal shop) and, for 17 years, as home to the school's rotating exhibits, the Fuller Projects, named in honor of the McCalla's School's last principal.

In its new incarnation, University Collections at McCalla builds on this history of education and exhibition with remodeled classrooms, a collections lab, gallery spaces, and a renovated multipurpose room.


  • Evening World, May 30, 1906.
  • “McCalla Building Opened Today.” Evening World, November 11, 1907.
  • “Expansion of Fairview and McCalla Soon.” Weekly Star, February 10, 1928.
  • “Nearly 4,000 Enrolled in City Schools.” Evening World, November 10, 1928.
  • Trustee Washington Township, “A Proposed Comprehensive Plan for the Reorganization of the School Corporations, Monroe County, Indiana.” May 1961.