Hampton Academy and its Board of Trustees

Hampton Academy & Winnacunnet High School Alumni Association
65th Anniversary, Historic Souvenir Booklet, 1972

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By Arthur J. Moody, Class of '53


The Early 1930s and the New Building

The call for a new Academy building came From all quarters during the 1930s. Citizens at Town Meetings, the Headmaster, students, Alumni - all publicly expressed the need for new facilities. Their pleas were usually directed toward the Town and public school officials. The Trustees, without taxation powers, could not erect a school that would be principally public. Perhaps this was the time for the old order to give way to the new. The problem seemed to stem from the trust funds. Could they legally be used to support a school not under control of the Board of Trustees, to whom the funds had been entrusted?

So it was throughout the decade.The new Superintendent of Schools in mid-1930 was Roy W. Gillmore. Mr. Gillmore's annual reports in Hampton Town Reports were always meticulously composed and comprehensive in nature. He quoted liberally from Headmaster Russell's reports to him; later, both reports would be presented separately. In the report for the Town's fiscal year ending January 31, 1936, Mr. Gillmore wrote that a "SubMaster" had been authorized to spend a part of his time supervising boys athletics. Organized athletics were clearly becoming an integral part of the overall Academy operation. However, a gym was still several years away. Supt. Gillmore thought that although organized sports teams were fine for the physically strong, there was need for an overall program of physical education for all boys and girls (such a formal program at any Hampton school would await the mid-World War II years). The "SubMaster" relieved Headmaster Russell from the supervision of the teams and permitted him to engage in individual-student counseling and vocational guidance.

The Superintendent also commented: "The public school has often been criticized as an ultraconservative institution. It has been said that its programs reflect the thinking of the past rather than of the present. As an attempt to keep our thinking in the present we have introduced in the high school program a course in Sociology. As developed, this is strictly a course dealing with modern social conditions and with modern thinking." Driver Training was added in 1936-37 but Biology came later, after a better lab was built in the new school. The courses added in the late 1930s gave the boys (who didn't like Latin) more choices in electives.

At that time, the value of the Academy and site was put at $9,000. with equipment being pegged al $1,200. For most of the decade, Hampton paid about $5,000 per year to the Trustees in lieu of tuition for the students from the Town. Only in the last years of operation (1937-1940) did this appropriation increase to $6,000. Tuition from other towns reached a peak in 1932-33 and 1933-34. A high of about $400 was paid by North Hampton in 1933-34 with a high of approximately $900 being appropriated by Hampton Falls in 1932-33. Seabrook's tuition was a much smaller amount. After 1934, as conditions at the Academy worsened, out-of-town pupils accounted for an increasingly smaller part of the total enrollment. Income from invested funds amounted to about $3,000 per year with some unencumbered investments being called toward the end of the decade to cover operating expenses. The total budget each year was fairly steady at approximately $10,000 with just under $7,000 being allocated for teachers' salaries.

Very little about building a new Academy is found in the Trustees' minutes until 1936. The Trustees continued to operate as before. In 1930, upon the death of Charles M. Batchelder, a Trustee for 33 years, Samuel A. Towle '22 was elected to fill the vacancy. He was immediately chosen Financial Secretary, a position he held until Pres. Lane retired from active participation in Trustee affairs in the mid-1940s. Mr. Towle was then elected President and serves to this day in that capacity.

In the 1933 "Trustees' records, Pres. Lane mentions the reinvestment of the $1,000 that his mother had left the Academy. Quite possibly Lydia Garland Lane had left that amount but, since no previous mention was made of such a legacy in her name, Mr. Lane was probably referring to the $1,000 given in the name of his father, Joshua, in 1906 (given perhaps, by Mrs. Lane). At the same meeting, Headmaster Russell briefed the Trustees on the work of the school in the past year and the proposals for the next year.

The Trustees were well-pleased with the new oil-hunting furnace installed after the 1930 fire. Although the winter of 1933-34 was "extremely severe" and there was an additional load for night school (Government extension work), the system provided better and cheaper heat as compared to the coal-and-wood days prior to 1930. The Board authorized 12 new desk sets in 1933 and a dozen new chairs for the upper classroom in 1934. The new trees on the Academy lawn were mentioned in 1934. Traditionally, each graduating class planted a sapling during Class Day exercises with an appropriate "tree oration" by a class member. But the matter of newer toilet facilities was left in the lap of the Executive Committee. The Recording Secretary, also Mr. Towle, wrote that the Trustees inspected the Academy and found it in excellent physical condition (compared to the years previous to Headmaster Russell's principalship) except for a leak or two on the south roof. The next year, the insurance underwriters requested that certain repairs be undertaken.

At the Board's annual meeting in June 1936: "Comment was made on the crowded and inadequate condition of the present building, the necessity of painting it, and some comment was made on the possibility of a new building. No definite action taken." In 1937, the Board received reports from repairmen that the Academy building steeple (above the belfry) was in an unsafe condition. The subsequent removal of the picturesque steeple marked the beginning of the end for the building itself.

Changes on the Board due to deaths in this period included: senior Trustee Warren M. Batchelder (41 years' service from 1896 to 1937) replaced by Kenneth W. Swain '31 of Hampton Falls, who presently serves as Treasurer; Amos T. Leavitt '87 (a Trustee from 1910 to 1938) succeeded by Hollis R. Johnson '27 of Hampton. Resignations were: John W.F. Hobbs '04 (served between 1927 and 1935) replaced by Paul W. Hobbs '25 of North Hampton; Mrs. Wilson Olney (1925-35) replaced by Otis Raymond Garland '14: Fred L. Dow (1925-38) replaced by Gordon S. Dow of North Hampton.

Hampton and the Congregational Church were 300 years old in 1938. Official commemoration/celebration took place in late August. In connection with the Tercentenary, the Board of Selectmen adopted an official Town Seal. The selected design, by Mrs. Hazle (Leavitt) Smith '13, included a drawing of the wooden Academy building in the position of the crest over the arms or shield. In heraldry, the crest (on the helmet of a knight) represents the traditional means of identification. Thus, it was Hampton's Academy which was accorded the signal honor of personifying the Town of Hampton on its official seal. The Academy Alumni Association, with financial support from the Trustees, also honored its Alma Miller by entering a float - a large model of the Academy - in the gigantic, two-mile-long Tercentenary parade. Mr. George Frank Savage, the grandfather of Barbara (Savage) Toppan '36, replicated the Academy building on a flatbed carriage. Even the picket fence, flagpole and a bell in the belfry were included. The replica, about 12 feet high, won the silver cup (first place) in the Schools' Division. Thereafter. the float was stored by the Trustees, used for an exhibit or two in the 1960s and is currently, after partial winterizing, on display at the Winnacunnet Plantation Restoration on Meeting House Green in Hampton.

By 1938, the clamor for a new high school had reached a "do or die" pitch. The year before, Headmaster Russell in his short speech at the annual Alumni Association banquet had recommended a new school, reporting that "classes are becoming so large as to hamper efficient methods of education." After describing the rather speedy disintegration of the building, he suggested that the Alumni Association vote to go on record as being in favor of a new facility. So voted. Later, the lead editorial in an issue of the school paper, "H.A. Script," read: "Although Hampton Academy is one of the oldest schools in this state I feel that it should be replaced by a more modern institution. Although this old building is filled to the rafters with sentiment and romance, still its whole frame trembles in a high wind. The old stairs that our mothers and fathers trod up and down in their carefree youth are nearly worn through with the passing of years. Some of the desks which bear imprints of carved initials are old and out of date. We often bump our heads on the posts that help support the building. The old stoves have been replaced by a more modern heating plant, yet the walls of the building are so drafty that we fail to enjoy the benefits of it. Perhaps these things will meet the needs of our parents, but they are inadequate for ours. Someday perhaps we will witness the discarding of the good old Academy for the new. Then will the little old brown building in among the trees have to step aside with its never-to-be-forgotten memories of so many young students who have stepped over the worn-out threshold to face the world." The editorial was signed "C.O." - probably for Charlotte B. Odiorne '41.

A columnist in the public press (Exeter NEWS-LETTER commented: "Hampton Academy always seems to be one of the seven wonders of the modern world. With an antiquated building and meager equipment, it manages to send out each year as fine a class of boys and girls as can be found in New Hampshire. Surely they deserve better quarters. The town would gladly put up a new structure, but the legislature turns thumbs down on the project because it would increase the bonded debt of the town beyond the legal limit. The town still has a margin of $100,000, and could doubtless issue bonds to this amount. There must be at least 500 living alumni, some of them in very prosperous circumstances. Why should not the town and the alumni enter into a 50-50 arrangement, each side furnishing one-half the money needed for a new academy building?"

Prior to the Tercentenary celebration in 1938, the voters of Hampton at the annual Town Meeting in March had shown their concern for conditions at the Academy by authorizing the Selectmen to secure information on the cost of "a proper High School suitable for attendance by the children of Hampton." Although that vote came under Article 18 ("To transact any other business that may come before said meeting") of the Town Warrant, the School Board rightly assumed jurisdiction and in less than a month, at the annual School District Meeting, secured voter approval to begin the project of building a new school. The District held a special meeting in September 1938 to discuss preliminary plans. The 11-member Building Committee included three Trustees chosen by the Board of Trustees. O. Raymond Garland '14 resigned as Trustee since he was also a member of the elected School Board whose three members served on the Building Committee. Replacing Mr. Garland as a Trustee was Elmore L. Dearborn who had attended the Academy with the Class of 1916 but had transferred after his Sophomore year (1913-14). Mr. Dearborn served as Secretary on the Board until his death in October 1960. Thereafter. Mr. Garland was reelected a Trustee (in 1961) and chosen Secretary, a position he presently holds.

While public-school officials went ahead with plans for a new school, classes continued in the "tan building among the trees." In the Town Report for the year ending January 31, 1939, Supt. Gillnore reported: "With a Fall enrollment of 86, in an inadequate building, the teaching staff is faithfully preparing our children for the work of advanced schools. The lack of modern facilities makes this a particularly arduous task for the teachers and pupils alike. Because equipment for the domestic arts work is almost entirely lacking, the school board has offered the use of the Centre School equipment for the Academy girls. This has helped." Supt. Gillmore also reported that the successful football team of 1938 was tendered a banquet by the Community Club; letters were awarded along with sweaters, gift of the American Legion [Post 35].

The solutions to the legal problems of the Trustees were worked out but not completely resolved until mid-1939. The Building Committee offered $1,500 to the Trustees for the Academy's two lots, building and contents. The Town wanted to construct the new building at the very desirable location of the existing structure but couldn't go ahead until it owned the land. The Trustees were unconcerned over the monetary aspects but felt they could not sell due to legal technicalities involved and possible liability of selling property held in trust. At that time, both parties were agreeable to eminent domain proceedings, which would be court-directed. The Trustees also proposed that in return for the net income of the trust funds, the Trustees would have equal representation on the School Board and that the school be continued as "Hampton Academy and High School." Agreement on perpetuating the name was reached but the School Board could not guarantee the first proposition since members were elected at large by the voters of the District.

The Building Committee went ahead and at the annual School District Meeting in early April 1939, it secured authorization for a bond issue of $110,000 for building, furnishings and equipment as well as grading. The issue sold for $110,889.90 for an interest rate of 1¾ percent. Public opinion favored the deeding of the two lots to the School District by the Trustees. Instead of eminent domain, initiated by the School Board, the Trustees voted in May to petition Rockingham Superior Court for permission to modify trust provisions so that the lots could be deeded "to the School District of Hampton, for High School purposes, the land & building held by them at High St. & Academy Ave." By the time of the Trustees' annual meeting, Judge Connor had granted the petition and all Trustees present signed the necessary legal papers. After the transfer, the Trustees were still in the position of having to seek permission from the School District to maintain the old Academy building on leased land for the last academic year of 1939-40 while the new school was being built directly to the north of it. The lease, of course, was granted.

Shortly thereafter, the plans drawn up by the architectural firm of Huddleston and Hersey, Durham, were put out to bid. In August 1939, The Swanburg Co., Manchester, the lowest bidder, was awarded the building contract for $96,534. Chester A. Leach of Moultonboro was employed by the Building Committee as resident inspector ("clerk of the works," to some).

Samuel A. Towle, Secretary to both the Building Committee and the Trustees, turned the first spade of turf and the building was quickly up and closed in before the first snow fell. The building was clearly "New Hampshire-built" for all of the firms and much of the materials involved were from the Granite State. The 98,000 red bricks were fired in Epping. Sand, gravel, lumber, partition tile and plaster all came from the State -- according to Dean B. Merrill, a Committee member by virtue of his seat on the School Board. He also reported that there are 2,950 panes of window glass in the steel-frame building. Because of the added expense of reinforcing the roof to hold a large bell, the cupola atop the school only complements the Colonial style of the building and does not contain the 1852 bell from the old Academy. That bell was stored in the basement of the new school when the old building was razed in August 1940. Some 26 years later, it was taken out of storage and, sans clapper, was put on permanent display in front of the Hampton Academy Junior High School.

The 1939-40 Academy building - with nine classrooms, two rooms for teachers, a gym/auditorium seating 600, locker-room facilities and a spacious basement - was practically completed nearly 50 days ahead of schedule in mid-April 1940. The total cost of about $114,000 was borne by Hampton taxpayers without any increase in the tax rate or Federal funds. Had the school not been built when it was - before the entry of the United States into World War II - there's little doubt that its construction would not have been permitted until after 1945 when the cost would have been much higher.

The new building was dedicated on Saturday, June 8, 1940, with appropriate ceremonies in the new auditorium. Walter B. May, Deputy Commissioner of Education for the State, delivered the principal address, in which he urged the "preservation of the values underlying American democracy in the face of the flood of foreign propaganda." Building Committee member Dean B. Merrill presented a conspectus of the project, Samuel A. Towle outlined the history of Hampton Academy and Headmaster Russell spoke (in the "Hampton Academy and High School of the future." Then Selectman Edward S. Batchelder, Chairman of the Building Committee, turned the keys of the building over to School Board Chairman (and Committee member) O. Raymond Garland. A week later, the 23 members of the Class of 1940 were graduated from the same auditorium.

After classes were finished in the old Academy building, it was auctioned off in July for $200; in August it was razed for salvage. September 1940 arrived and Hampton Academy began classes in its third permanent building -- under complete control of public officials. The 180-day school year required by the State was divided into four nine-week terms or marking periods. The ninth grade joined the three upper classes after 18 school years in the Centre School. Larger classes - with more pupils from Hampton Falls and North Hampton - ensued. In the first year, 19 new tuition students were attributable to the new facility; those 19 brought in an additional $1,805 in revenue. One more teacher was programmed for the first year to handle the increased number of classrooms; two others were added in each of the next two years for new courses and programs. The staff of 11 during the middle years of WWI enabled more effort being expended in the new courses and for extracurricular activities (such as class plays and school-associated clubs). In 1941-42, a four-year Mechanics Arts curriculum made possible by the new facilities provided training in Cabinet Making, Metal Working, Auto Mechanics and Electricity. Forty boys were enrolled in this program of study during the first year. Various branches of the Federal Government requested that high-school students, especially boys, he exposed to more Science. Mathematics, History, English and Physical Training for the duration of the War. Existing courses were -- fortified -- in those areas. A more formal Physical Education program was initiated in the mid-War years and extensive fitness courses were added after the War. Beginning in 1942-43, a course in Aeronautics was taught to Senior boys. Earlier, in 1941-42, evening classes (15 hours per week for eight weeks) in Elementary Electricity were offered under the Federal Out-of-School Youth Program. Many workers were thereby trained for the War Effort.

During the War, many boys dropped out of the High School and enlisted in the Armed Services and the Merchant Marines. Graduates, both men and women, also served.... and died for their country. Still others were imprisoned by the Axis Powers. Many who joined the Army found their way to its Ski Troops. Meanwhile, at the Academy, graduating classes manifested their patriotism by adopting class mottoes such as "Eternal Vigilance is the Price of Liberty," class colors such as "Red, White and Blue" and, even "Red, White and Blue Flowers" as the class flower.

According to Alumni Association records, those perishing in service (U.S. Navy, Naval Aviation, and Marine Corps; Army and Army Air Forces; Coast Guard; Merchant Marines) during World War II were:


Richard Warren Blake '43
Norman Milton Dearborn '35
Roland Mitchell Gray '41
Harry Alfred Parr, Jr. '34
Richard Thornton Raymond X'32
Edward William Tobey '38
Neil Ruthven Underwood X'38
Robert Knowlton White '43


John William French Hobbs '04


Robert Gordon Lord '43

The Class of 1943 was particularly hard hit, losing three of its 14 male graduates. So. too, would Alumni servicemen die in another war, in another place, in another time. Air Force Major Murray Lawrence Smith '51, from North Hampton, was a victim of the Vietnam War. That War has also claimed Winnacunnet High School graduates Robert Ernest Shaw '66 of North Hampton, Bruce Wadleigh Brown '63 of Hampton and Steven Jay Philbrick '68 of Hampton. Pvt. Philbrick, U.S.M.C., was KIA on the Silver Anniversary of D-Day.

For the 1944-45 academic year, five courses of study were offered: Academic, Scientific, Commercial, Home Economics and Vocational. The 36 graduates off the Class of 1945 were mostly girls. Of the 10 boys, seven were quickly in uniform, serving during the waning days of the War. The previous year, 17 of the 25 graduates were girls.

A Department of Physical Education was established in 1945-46. John G. Peterson became the boys' P.E. teacher and the coach of many of the school's teams until assuming the title Director of Athletics in 1957. He continued teaching and coaching when the building became the Academy\Junior High, retiring after 25 years at the Academy in 1970. The Peterson Sportsmanship Award, presented to a boy at the Junior High each year, was begun that year.

From 1940-41 to 1947-48, the enrollment at the High School rose from 149 to 208. Tuition for nonresidents had risen to a total of $6,500 by 1945-46; $8,700 by 1947-48. During the decades of the '30s and the '40s, about half of the Academy's graduates continued their education at some advanced school.

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