The campus that the International Preservation Studies Center was located on can trace its history back to 1852 when a group of Mount Carroll citizens chartered a secondary school and named it the Mount Carroll Seminary. In 1853, the group hired two young ladies from out east as the school's first teachers. Frances Wood and Cinderella Gregory began classes on the second floor of a downtown building three days after their arrival. By 1854, construction had begun on the campus' first building. Later that same year, the townspeople, tired of dealing with financial difficulty, struck a deal with the two ladies, offering to give them clear title of the land for $4,500. The only condition was that they promise to stay for ten years. The teachers agreed, and under their direction the school flourished.
Frances Wood married Henry Shimer in 1857. Many believe it was a marriage of convenience, for shortly after the wedding Henry left for medical school in Chicago, and returned to Mount Carroll only occasionally. Frances continued to be a driving force behind the school for nearly all the rest of her life. She was the school administrator, and Cinderella took charge of the educational responsibilities. Frances designed many additions to the original building. She supervised and worked with the carpenters, doing much of the labor herself. She planted thousands of trees and other plants, making the campus self-sufficient for its produce. Having two women in charge of such an institution was very rare in its day.
In 1870, Cinderella married and sold her share to Frances Shimer. Shimer retired in 1896, after successfully creating an affiliation for Shimer College with the University of Chicago. She died in 1901, and five years later a devastating fire destroyed every part of the Campus that Frances Shimer had known. Only two newly built structures survived.
In the late 1970's Shimer College relocated to Waukegan, Illinois, leaving its Mount Carroll campus for sale to the highest bidder. Fearing the dissolution of the campus as a whole, and the negative impact it may have on the local economy, a group of citizens joined together to purchase the campus and to find a new purpose for it. They successfully kept the campus intact, and soon had plans to start a brand new type of school. They formed The Restoration College Association, led by a local furniture conservator, and in 1980 the new organization offered its first workshops in historic preservation.
The Restoration College Association changed its name to the Campbell Center for Historic Preservation Studies in the mid-1980's. In 1990 the Campbell Center's first paid director began developing comprehensive curriculum that included Collections Care in addition to historic preservation.
Over the past 36 years, the Center has evolved from a small center designed specifically for historic preservation training, to one of the leading training organizations for museum, library, archives, conservation refresher, and historic preservation.
In 2016 the Center changed its name to the International Preservation Studies Center.
The new name reflects the organization's growth over the years, and where it is headed in the future.