About

History

The story of CH-CH begins in 1828...

Our History

Chauncy Hall School Founded - 1828
Chapel Hill School Founded - 1860
Merged into Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School - 1971
Incorporated Huntington School - 1974

Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School’s rich history involves three schools: Chauncy Hall, Chapel Hill, and the Huntington School. Chapel Hill, a school for girls founded in 1860 in Waltham on the current campus, and Chauncy Hall, a Boston day school for boys founded in 1828, merged in 1971 to create Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall. To the merger, Chapel Hill brought its strength in humanities and the arts, and Chauncy Hall brought its first-rate curriculum in science and math. In 1974, Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall incorporated the Huntington School, a Boston school for boys founded in 1909. The Huntington School brought its emphasis on the individual student. Small class size, respect for the individual student, and nurturing environments were traits each school honored and that Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall continues to embrace.

Chauncy Hall was founded in 1828 by Gideon Thayer on what is now the site of Macy’s in Boston’s Downtown Crossing. The school originally trained the children of wealthy Bostonians for careers in business, and later prepared students to attend Harvard, MIT and other prestigious colleges. Chauncy Hall was known for its many innovations in education, including using literature for reading lessons, and implementing a department system to recognize teachers who were "gifted and accomplished in different directions." The school thrived in the mid-1800s under Thayer, who was also an advocate for better education nationwide. Chauncy Hall became a model for many new institutions.

Chapel Hill began on the site of the current campus in Waltham on what was once Jonas Clark’s farm. Clark and many other local families embraced the religious and spiritual beliefs of Emanuel Swedenborg. To meet the community’s need for a classroom, the Waltham New Church School was founded in 1860 at the west end of their church’s chapel. The school soon grew too large for the space, and in 1864, Wilkins Hall was built. The focus of the school for girls (and some boys in lower grades) was to provide a liberal education through training the powers of "observation, reflection, comparison, and drawing the right conclusions." In 1912, the school became the Waltham School for Girls, and in 1937, was renamed the Chapel Hill School.

The Huntington School was housed in the YMCA building on Boston’s Huntington Avenue. The school enjoyed an excellent reputation as a college preparatory school due to its demanding curriculum. The school also valued the individual student. Charles Henry Sampson, its head for 30 years, wrote that the Huntington School does not have 200 boys, as listed in the catalogue, but 200 personalities, and that not one of them "…is exactly like another physically, mentally, socially, or emotionally."

The social climate of the late 1960s and early 1970s brought a challenge to many independent schools. There was decreased enrollment in private schools due to better public schools, a growing aversion to the strict prep school atmosphere, and a desire on the part of parents to watch over their children more closely. Throughout the Northeast, schools were looking for options, and coeducational mergers were seen as both a financial and social solution.
 
Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall is proud of its history and recognizes it in many ways.
 
  • The beautiful 19th century Wilkins Hall and its unique free-standing spiral staircase still welcomes students.
  • Student assemblies are held in the “CH-CH Commons” – the 19th century stone chapel which housed the original Waltham New Church School.
  • Our Victorian “Cottage” serves as home base for our freshmen and SAS programs.
  • Historic pictures and artifacts beautify the walls of historic East Hall, which is home to several administrative support offices.
  • At Head of School installations, the official book of the School is passed from one head to the next.
  • In addition to our collection of 75,000 photographs and archival documents, there are 20,000 digital photos available to the public via the Internet.
  • At the annual graduation ceremony several awards are presented in honor of esteemed former faculty, heads of school, and students.
 
Additionally, the School has an active alumni office and Alumni Council to organize events and to keep in contact with alumni of CH-CH, Chauncy Hall, Chapel Hill, and the Huntington School.
 

List of 2 items.

  • Chapel Hill School History

    Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall is located on the once open fields of Jonas Clark's farm. The area of Lexington and Beaver Streets was known as Piety Corner and as Benjamin Worcester candidly points out in The Early History of the Waltham New-Church School, "let not the Alumni imagine, from the reputation they left behind them" but named thus because many of the Deacons of the First Church of Waltham lived in the area. As Clark and many other local families embraced the religious and spiritual tenets laid down in Emanuel Swedenborg's Arcana Coelestia, the need was felt for a school which carried Swedenborg's philosophy into the classroom. The Waltham New-Church School was founded in 1860 to meet their need and was the first name for what is now known as Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School.

    John Clark, oldest of the Clark children, attended Harvard College where he was part of a group of nine students who found an interest in Swedenborg's writings. Among them were some of the founders of the Waltham New-Church School - Thomas Worcester, Nathaniel Hobart, Sampson Reed, and Timothy Harrington Carter. Often, the men would spend time at the Clark farm and eventually all four married Clark's sisters — Alice, Lydia, Catharine, and Martha, respectively.

    As the Clark extended family grew, a need was felt for both a meeting house and a school for the many New-Church families in the area of Piety Corner. In 1859, the Waltham Corporation of the New Jerusalem Church was founded and land was procured on which the original Chapel was built. In 1860, the New-Church School opened in the west end of the Chapel, separated by a movable partition, with 18 boys and girls, 10 from Waltham and 8 from outlying towns who boarded in the neighborhood. The first teacher was Edwin A. Gibbens, a Harvard graduate who had been teaching at the Boston Latin School.

    By 1863, the school had 60 pupils and was running out of space. Land was acquired through the generosity of a few New-Church members and by September of 1864 the School Building, built in the shape of a Greek cross, and the "Cottage," both still in use today, were built. The ownership of the school was then transferred to the New-Church Institute of Education which had recently been left a generous sum of money by John H. Wilkins, an original member for whom the school building is named, so that it could assume the large mortgage incurred by the construction. The Corporation put the school under the charge of a Board of Managers with the Reverend John Worcester as the superintendent in charge of the "special care of the moral and spiritual welfare of the pupils."
    Gibbens left in 1866 and was replaced by Charles B. Chace and a girls' dorm was built, "irrever­ently called the 'soap box'." This building was later replaced by Harrington Hall. Sometime in the late 1800s a boys' dormitory was also built, known as Brown Gables.

    Mr. Chace remained at the New-Church School for only two years and in 1868 the school dropped to only 40 students and experienced financial difficulties which led the Institute to consider closing the school. At that time, the Institute "put the School with all its responsibilities into the hands of the one they thought most interested in it, for this reason among others, that he had nine children to be educated in it," and Benjamin Worcester took on the duties of both superintendent and headmaster, under the title of Principal.

    During Worcester's 43-year tenure, the school ranged in size from 40 to 100 pupils. A paying basis for attendance was instituted while financial assistance came from the Institute as well as the Boston Society of the New Jerusalem Church. Students were admitted for preparation for "College, for Harvard Scientific School or for the Institute of Technology." For students not wishing to pursue a college education, "the equivalent of a high school education, with the addition of any specially desired studies" was offered.

    The increased number of pupils called for changes to the physical plant as well as the financial structure. In 1894, a new building was built next to the pond contain­ing workshops for manual training and labs for chemical and physical sciences on the first floor, and a gymnasium on the second floor. This building burned in 1979 and the site remains lawn area for the present school. Harrington (formerly North) Hall and South Hall, the gift of Arthur A. Carey, former teacher and friend, were built in 1903 and were lauded for their fireproof construction and modern facilities. While Harrington Hall replaced the "soap box", the boys' dorm known as Brown Gables was not razed for a number of years.

    Benjamin Worcester served the school faithfully until his death in 1911 and was succeeded by Dr. George B. Beaman, a teacher and associate principal. In 1912, the name of the school was changed to the Waltham School for Girls as the times showed a trend away from coeducation. The school continued to accept boys in the lower grades and since the boys did not take kindly to the school's name, the lower school became known as Chapel Hill.

    Miss Martha Mason replaced Dr. Beaman as principal in 1917, and initiated the first graduation as well as the traditional Vesper services which continued through 1973.

    In 1926, the school catalog lists Louise Fay as Principal and Jessie Beals as Acting Principal. As was true with most principals at Chapel Hill, both Fay and Beals taught classes as well. The curriculum in 1926 consisted of Math, Languages (French, Spanish and Latin), History, English, Science, and Electives which included Music, Art, Cooking, Sewing, Textiles, and Household Physics.

    The focus of the school from the beginning was to provide a liberal education and in the 1926 catalog the stated aim of the school was to train the powers of "observation, memory, reflection, comparison, and drawing right conclusions, and giving of fit expression by voice and hand." Of equal importance, though, was "the moral and spiritual development" of the students and "constant effort" was made to "instill and foster love for doing what is right because it is right." Much of this aim reflects the teachings of Swedenborg but are also indicative of Benjamin Worcester who is attributed with leaving an impression on the school of his "rich and thorough scholarship" and of "a personality remarkable for poetic and artistic appreciation of beauty of every kind — in literature, in art, in music, and in science." As a consequence of these attitudes, the school's extracurricular offerings were diverse and included the production of plays, literary magazines, various clubs, and intramural athletic activities such as archery, basketball, bowling, and others.

    In 1937, Mr. Philip E. Goodhue was named principal and the name of the school was changed to Chapel Hill School. The school continued to accept both day and boarding students and was regarded as a country day school. The Student Government concept was introduced and implemented by Katherine G. Rusk during her two years of service as principal in the early 1940s.

    Marjorie Rounds became prin­cipal in 1943 after serving as a math teacher for 2 ½ years. During the first 7 years of her principal­ship the school prospered, averaging about 100 students. The decision to discontinue the lower school was made around 1950 and by 1956 the last of the boys and lower school students had com­pleted the 6th grade. With only 40 students in grades 7-12 in 1956, Mrs. Rounds resigned, recognizing that the school needed a "promoter" and Mr. Wilfred Clark was hired to help revive the school.

    During his 12-year affiliation with Chapel Hill, Mr. Clark built up both the enrollment and the facilities. A number of houses were bought and used as dorms in the late 50s to accommodate the increased boarding enrollment. Of those still owned by the school are East Hall, the president's residence; Peebles Hall, the present admissions building, the present Emery residence located behind the Barn; and the Barn. In 1959 the pool was built and in 1960 dedicated as Caughey (pronounced Coy) Pool. In 1963, Worcester Hall, then known as the New Dormitory, was built and in 1967 the 7th and 8th grades were discontinued and the first Remed­ial Reading class began as the precursor of today's Individually Guided Studies Program.

    Mr. Clark was an energetic man who ran the school with the assis­tance of his wife Gladys, co-Principal, and his daughter Shirley Clark Warden, Assistant Principal and Dean. By 1960, enrollment had increased significantly and a student handbook of the mid-60s reveals a comprehensive set of rules for a very structured school. The rules stated in the handbook were typical of schools during that era. Published strictures included:
    ·         No dungarees, tight 'stretch pants' or short shorts are to be worn on campus or in the dormi­tory at any time.
    ·       
    ·         Provide yourself with rubbers, raincoats or umbrellas and snow boots, and use them in stormy weather when going from building to building. The penalty for not wearing them in stormy weather is 10 demerits.

    Discipline was based on a point system allowing students to earn positive "points," for participation in school offices and activities, and negative "demerits" for "infractions of student standards." These infractions included lateness for meals or classes; untidy rooms, dress, or hair; and violation of telephone rules.

    The next transition occurred in 1968, Clark's last year, when Clifford Erickson was hired as Academic Dean and Headmaster Elect. But, no "grooming" could prepare Erickson for the challenge of the late 60s and early 70s —decreased enrollment in all private schools due to better public schools, a growing youthful distaste for the strict prep school atmosphere, and a desire on the part of parents to keep a closer eye on their children in light of a widespread rejection by adolescents of traditional adult values. By 1970, Chapel Hill felt the effects of this trend as enrollment decreased by 30 students. Schools throughout the northeast were looking for options and coeducational mergers were seen as both a financial and social solution.
     
  • Chauncy Hall School History

    Chauncy Hall School was founded in 1828 by Gideon Thayer in the heart of Boston on the site of what is now the Jordan Marsh Company. At first a man of business, Thayer turned to edu­cation in the early 1820s by starting a small, single-room school which eventually grew, moved, and culminated eight years later into Thayer's "ideal institution," Chauncy Hall.

    The original Chauncy Hall school house was built in 1828 and named for Dr. Charles Chauncy, the minister of the First Church which stood adjacent to the school house on Chauncy Place. With an Upper Department for older boys and a Preparatory Department for their younger brothers, Chauncy Hall originally trained the children of well-to-do Bostonians for careers in business and only later shifted to preparation for college. The intimacy of Boston at the time is reflected in Thomas Cushing's book Historical Sketch of Chauncy Hall with Catalog 1824-1894, as he describes the method by which students were listed in the first Chauncy Hall catalog. "Instead of stating the residences of the pupils, as afterwards became customary, it simply mentioned whose son each boy was . . .”

    Within the first ten years of its existence Chauncy Hall became known as a school whose graduates could be "counted on for the possession of several highly useful qualities and accomplishments." The school succeeded in sending several candidates to Harvard and in 1834 it shifted its focus from business to preparation for Harvard as well as other colleges.

    Throughout the mid-1800s both Boston and Chauncy Hall grew. After more than 30 years of service, Gideon Thayer resigned in 1855 and the firm name (the school was a proprietary organization until 1939) was carried on as Thayer and Cushing with Thomas Cushing as acting principal. In 1858, Chauncy Hall began accepting female students, usually the sisters of boys already in school. In 1865, a female teacher was employed as "an experiment and . . . entirely successful." With the founding of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1865, students began seeking acceptance into the "Institute" as well as Harvard.

    Chauncy Hall was also known for its many innovations in education. The comfort and well­being of the students was emphasized and the building area included a playground, central heating, adequate ventilation, and plenty of sunshine; the school was outfitted with extensive equipment - blackboards, adjustable chairs, maps, globes, and even a micro­scope; "real" literature was used for reading lessons; the Department System was initiated recognizing that teachers were "gifted and accomplished in different directions" and a "medal" system of reward "prevented any rivalry between candidates" and "all who reached a prescribed standard, could receive the desired honor." Chauncy Hall became a model for many new schools and Gideon Thayer was active as an advocate for better education nationwide. In 1861, Chauncy Hall was proud to have one of the first organized School Companies known as the Chauncy Hall Battalion. Many Chauncy men and boys fought during the Civil War with "not a few of them laying down their young lives on far off southern fields."

    The expansion of Boston began to take its toll on the ideal educa­tional environment of Chauncy Hall. Chauncy Place was converted to Chauncy Street and became a major business thoroughfare. Buildings grew up around the school and as a large commercial structure "shut out the light of heaven from our very windows," Chauncy Hall School, with over 200 students, moved in May of 1868 from the original building, which was later razed, to an old family residence on Essex Street.

    The school stayed at the Essex Street location until the summer of 1873 when fire demolished the school building along with its first library and all other contents.  Temporary space was occupied while a new location was researched. Cushing states, "Fortunately our attention was directed to the neighborhood of what is now Copley Square, and though then it seemed somewhat out-of-town, it was thought best to take the risk of the city's growing in that direction." The location was agreed upon and Mr. William Ladd, Associate Principal with Mr. Cushing, formed a stock company consisting of parents of pupils and former pupils to raise funds for the erection of a new building.

    The new Chauncy Hall School opened in Copley Square in September of 1874 built in the most up-to-date architectural style with an emphasis on ventilation and the comfort of the students. Many changes, both in physical setting and curriculum, accom­panied the new location: the teaching staff was augmented to accommodate the varied needs of the students; a Kindergarten was introduced and later run by Miss Lucy Wheelock who went on to found Miss Wheelock's School, now Boston University Wheelock College of Education and Human Development; special courses were initiated "where age, health, or future position, rendered them desirable;" and a gymnasium was built which was shared with the Institute of Technology. Up to this point, preparation for Harvard sufficiently covered preparation for other colleges as well. But as the requirements for college accep­tance diversified, Chauncy Hall broadened its curriculum to meet the changing needs of various institutions of higher education.

    The first few years in Copley Square were very successful and the school prospered until 1896 when financial and administrative difficulties made it necessary to sell the building, which was torn down in 1908. The school consoli­dated with the Berkeley School, run by three Chauncy graduates, and moved into the Y.M.C.A. building which occupied the corner of Boylston and Berkeley Streets. This building was destroyed by fire and after temporary quarters the school moved in September of 1910 to 553 Boylston Street where it remained until 1964. This location was the first which still survives.

    In September of 1896, Franklin Thomas Kurt was hired to develop a department of Science, and he began an affiliation with Chauncy Hall which lasted over 50 years until his death in 1947.
     
    The Kurt Years
    By the early 1900s, Franklin Kurt had become sole proprietor of Chauncy Hall and began shaping the school to his dream — "an educational institution with...superior standards." Improved public grammar and primary school education led Chauncy Hall to end its Kindergarten and Preparatory Departments. After 1904, women instructors were dropped and girls were no longer admitted. Preparation for college became the main focus of the curriculum and rigorous instruction in mathematics and science led the school to focus specifically on preparing students for MIT and other technical institutes.

    Kurt brought with him a new system for ensuring success in math and science called "checking." Students were required to go over all incorrect problems with their instructors within two days and provide the correct answers. Of even more importance was demonstrating that they understood the concept represented by the problem. Students spent many after-school hours with their instructors striving to get a "check" of approval.

    A man of talent, discipline, and unswerving high standards, Kurt led Chauncy Hall with great success through the first half of the twentieth century. He demanded a great deal of his faculty but returned as much in dedication and faith. In A School and a Man, Edward H. Cole recounts Kurt's relationship with his faculty. "He bolstered the confidence of his instructors in ways that thoroughly inspired them with his aims and made them deeply loyal to him. Throughout the long years of Mr. Kurt's principalship there were few changes of personnel. Mr. Kurt himself never failed to attribute the success of Chauncy Hall to its faculty."

    His demands were equal on the students of Chauncy Hall. Academic standards were maintained to the highest. At the beginning of each school year there was only one rule governing discipline: "Every boy at Chauncy Hall can do whatever he pleases wherever he pleases and whenever he pleases — provided that it is the right for every other student to do likewise." As one might expect, instances arose during the year which called for the establishment of additional rules. But, in this way, the students were responsible for the rules under which they were to be governed.

    Up to this point, all Chauncy Hall principals had been selected from within the structure of the school. (The exception being when, in 1896, Chauncy graduates Taylor, De Merritte, and Hagar of the Berkeley School took over.) Kurt felt it was necessary to ensure this tradition and the future of the school and in 1939 he established the Kurt Foundation, a non-profit corporation controlled by a Board of Trustees.

    Franklin Kurt died in August of 1947 after 51 years of service to Chauncy Hall School. In keeping with tradition, the Board of Trustees chose Ray Dwinell Farnsworth, named Associate Principal the previous year, to succeed him. Farnsworth was a Senior Master and instructor of mathematics and had been on the Chauncy Hall faculty since 1911.

    Farnsworth continued the Chauncy Hall heritage established by Kurt for over ten years while at the same time continuing to improve and update the course offerings of the school. Author of the text Plane Geometry which was used in his classes, he also introduced PSSC Physics to the curriculum.

    By 1960, the need for a larger and improved facility had become apparent and a committee headed by math teacher Roland A. Hueston began looking for an appropriate site. Farnsworth's sudden death in 1961 precipitated Hueston being named principal, and by 1963 a renovated building in Cleveland Circle was chosen as the new location of Chauncy Hall. A new library made up of contributions from faculty and friends, updated and extensive laboratory facilities, a modern language lab, and attractive offices were all publicized features of the new Chauncy Hall.

    In 1964, Captain Kenneth Earl, USN (Retired), was named headmaster. Decreased interest in math and science as a primary educational focus along with fewer student applications caused the standards for admission to become less competitive and a wider range of students were accepted. With students of varied skills, it became difficult to maintain the rigorous math and science training and "checking" was eliminated.

    Earl retired in 1968 and Roy Hatt was named headmaster. The first head of the school to be hired from the outside community, Hatt faced difficult times with fewer students and the general financial difficul­ties which faced independent schools in the late 60s and early 70s. In 1970, Chauncy Hall began looking for a solution by seeking a merger with another school. Undergoing some of the same difficulties, Chapel Hill School in Waltham was chosen and in January of 1971, the full Chauncy Hall staff and students moved to the Chapel Hill campus. Classes were conducted separately throughout the remainder of the academic year, and in September 1971 Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall emerged as a product of its predecessor schools.
     

Former Heads of School

Chauncy Hall School
Gideon Thayer, 1828-1855
Thomas Cushing, 1855-circa 1888
Franklin Kurt, 1896-1947
Ray Dinswell Farnsworth, 1947-1961
Roland Hueston, 1961-1964
Kenneth Earl, 1964-1968
Roy J. Hatt, 1968-1971
 
Chapel Hill School
Benjamin Worcester, 1868-1911
George B. Beaman, 1911-1917
Martha Mason, 1917-1926
Louise Fay, 1926-1937
Philip E. Goodhue, 1937-circa 1940
Katherine G. Rusk, circa 1940-1943
Marjorie Rounds, 1943-1956
Wilfred Clark, 1956-1968
Clifford Eriksen, 1968-1971
 
Huntington School
Ira Flinner
James Harris Morss
Charles Henry Sampson
William G. Wilkinson
William Randall
Norman Pierce
 
Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall School
Roy J. Hatt, 1971-1978
Harry M.A. Hart, 1978-1981
J. Gaston Favreau, 1981-1982
Sean D. O’Neil, 1982-1992
James R. Clements, 1992-1997
Donald H. Grace, 1997-2002
Siri Akal Khalsa, 2002-2009
Lance Conrad, 2009-present
Located 10 miles from Boston, Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall is a coeducational college preparatory school that teaches the way students learn. The School welcomes students with diverse learning styles and helps them to develop self-confidence and achieve academic success through personalized, integrated learning. Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall offers 180 boarding and day students a richly diverse cultural and academic environment and opportunities to engage in the arts, athletics and community service.