A Brief History of Concord Academy

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Concord Academy, grades 1 through 12, was established in what is now Haines House on Main Street in September 1922. Selected to lead the new school for girls was Elsie Garland Hobson, who in fifteen vigorous years as head would stress academic effort and see that scholarship was rewarded. During the brief tenure of Miss Hobson’s successor, Valerie Knapp (1937–40), a less rule-bound but no less demanding spirit was admitted, a spirit that Josephine Tucker (1940–49) encouraged. It was Miss Tucker who introduced the advisor system and abolished prizes at commencement, innovations that remain central to the school's philosophy.

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Classes through those early years were small. The class of 1924 numbered three girls, fifteen girls were in the class of 1938, twenty in the class of 1948. Not until the administration of Elizabeth Hall (1949–63) did Concord Academy grow markedly in size and achieve national stature. Mrs. Hall shaped the Academy into an independent high school, and the numbers in the boarding department expanded until boarders exceeded day students. Later in her administration and through that of David Aloian (1963–71), Concord Academy was regarded as perhaps the finest independent secondary school for girls in the country.

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Coeducation arrived in 1971, and the Academy adapted to its new role under headmasters Russell Mead (1971–76) and Philip McKean (1977–80). When Thomas Wilcox became head in 1981, he was presiding over a school well on its way to becoming fully established as a boarding and day coeducational institution. The nineteen vibrant years of Mr. Wilcox’s tenure enlarged and beautified school facilities while diversifying the faculty and student body. Under Wilcox’s successor, Jacob Dresden (2000–09), the Academy’s commitment to community and service was strengthened, the endowment was increased substantially, 13.6 acres were added to the campus, and the Chapel—the non-sectarian New England meeting house and communal “soul of the school”—was renovated at last, with great sensitivity, so as to accommodate the entire school membership comfortably. Richard G. Hardy was named tenth headmaster of Concord Academy in 2009.

Philip McFarland
Teacher Emeritus

Timeline

1922—Concord Academy founded for grades 1-12; Elsie G. Hobson named headmistress

1923—First Commencement, “outdoors, in the gardens back of the academy buildings”

1930—First Alumnae/i Day composed of twenty graduates

1927The Chameleon, the school’s literary magazine, begins publication

1937—Valeria Addams Knapp named headmistress

1940—J. Josephine Tucker named headmistress

1947—T.S. Eliot speaks at Commencement; twenty seniors graduate

1949Elizabeth B. Hall named headmistress

1950—First issue of the Bulletin (now Concord Academy magazine) is published

1952—Alumnae Association formally established

1956—Annual Giving program launched

1956-57—First Freewill Baptist Church of Snackerty Brook, New Hampshire, dismantled, transported to Concord Academy, and rebuilt on campus as new Chapel

1959—Classes open with the school’s first international student from Hanover, Germany

1963—David Aloian named headmaster

1963-64The Centipede, the student newspaper, is founded

1964—First Hall Fellow, Archibald MacLeish, spends three days at the school

1968—Howard Nemerov reads poetry to initiate Davidson Lectureship

1971—Concord Academy becomes coeducational

1971—Russell Mead named headmaster

1977—Philip McKean named headmaster

1981—Thomas E. Wilcox named headmaster

1984Elizabeth B. Hall Chapel dedicated

1987—Latin teacher, Doris Coryell, becomes first teacher emerita

1997—J. Josephine Tucker Library dedicated

2000—Jacob A. Dresden named head of school

2002—Strategic plan, “People & Program,” approved by the Board of Trustees

2004–05—Renovation and expansion of Elizabeth B. Hall Chapel

2007—Purchase of Arena Farms

2009—Richard G. Hardy named head of school