This building is of historical importance as the first institution in Britain specifically for the professional training of teachers.
It was founded by David Stow, a leading figure in the Glasgow Educational Association in the early 19th century. He held a strong belief that the education of children was the key to transforming and improving society and had previously set up an infant school in the Drygate area. There his modern methods attracted attention from many quarters, including Robert Owen whose social experiment at New Lanark is world famous. Owen visited Stow’s school, and was impressed by what he observed.
Stow was also prominent in the campaign to provide professional training for teachers, as he considered that to be a real defect in the parish school system of education, which was run at that time by the Church of Scotland.
The Normal Seminary opened in October 1837 having cost £15000 to build. This was a substantial sum to spend on education at that time. Due to the expense incurred in building the seminary, there was little money left for actual running costs. This quickly became a significant problem and financial help had to be sought from the Church of Scotland. This help was made available on condition that the Church took over the running of the establishment. Stow had always advocated a non-denominational approach to education , but he had to agree in order for the college to continue.
A short time later in 1843 the Disruption occurred, when many ministers along with their congregations left the Established Church over the issue of patronage (a minister being appointed by the landowner). Stow and most of his staff joined the Free Church and in 1845 they had to leave the building. This they did by marching in solemn procession along New City Road to their temporary home, in tents at the top of Hope Street. The Free Church Normal Seminary was established and a building soon replaced the tents on the same site. The seminary later moved to Southbrae Drive and became Jordanhill College of Education.
Various mergers and transfers took place within the education dept once the original building came under local authority control. However, as late as the 1970s the Cowcaddens building still housed a Teachers’ Centre. The building is now Dundasvale Business Centre.