150 Years of Cushing Academy

In 2015, Cushing Academy will celebrate 150 years since its founding. Use this timeline to learn more about highlights from the Academy's history.

1850-07-30 00:00:00

Thomas Parkman Cushing writes his will

1854-11-01 00:00:00

Thomas Parkman Cushing dies

Thomas Parkman Cushing was born on Oct. 7, 1787 and died in November of 1854.

1865-05-15 00:00:00

Cushing is founded

An Act of Incorporation is granted by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which signals the official beginning of Cushing Academy.

1874-10-01 00:00:00

Main Building construction commences

When complete, the top floor would be a general purpose room for assemblies, entertainments, lectures, and promenades—no dances.

1875-07-09 00:00:00

Dedication of Cushing Academy

Dedication of Cushing Academy. There were 66 boys and 56 girls enrolled. Tuition was $10 per term, with an extra cost for music lessons. There were seven faculty members including Principal Pierce; James E. Vose, who would become principal in 1879; and Preceptress Mary Jefts who also taught English and drawing.

1876-05-13 00:00:00

First baseball game

The first Cushing baseball game was played—Gardner Clippers 67, Cushing Academy 25.

1879-10-01 00:00:00

Highlights from 1879

Cushing’s first principal, Edwin Pierce, leaves the school; James Edward Vose becomes principal. Also joining the faculty that year was Fred D. Lane, who would serve the Academy in a variety of capacities for 57 years, although his active service numbered “only” 46 years. Drama was introduced.

1881-10-01 00:00:00

Parkman Hall and a literary society

The Academy purchased the Ladies Hall, later called Parkman Hall, to house girls. The Philadelphians, a debating group for boys, came into being. It would eventually come to be called a literary society.

1882-10-01 00:00:00

Jewett House is acquired

Charles Hastings gave the Jewett mansion and grounds to the school for use as a girls dormitory.

1887-06-01 00:00:00

Hervey Sumner Cowell arrives

Hervey Sumner Cowell is introduced as Cushing’s new principal. He was the first head of school to live in Jewett House. He would go on to be the Academy’s longest serving principal, finally leaving his post 39 years later, in 1926.

1887-06-04 00:00:00

James Vose resigns

James Vose resigns due to ill health (he passed away on Memorial Day that year).

1887-10-01 00:00:00

Beginnings of a track team

A new Cushing athletic association organizes a field day—the beginnings of a track team at the Academy.

1888-10-01 00:00:00

More literary societies and a school newspaper

The male Polymnians and female Germanae literary societies make their debut. The first issue of The Breeze is published.

1889-09-01 00:00:00

First international students

In 1889, Cushing welcomed its first international students from Armenia, Japan, and Canada.

1890-10-01 00:00:00

Lowe Hall and a new literary society

Lowe Hall is built. The Minervan Society, for girls, comes into being.

1891-10-01 00:00:00

Greenwood and Temple arrive

Helen Greenwood comes to Cushing, where she would serve for 31 years. Joining her that year was Rosabelle Temple, who would serve the Academy for an astonishing 47 years before her retirement in 1938.

1891-12-14 00:00:00

Football comes to Cushing

First football game is played by Cushing Academy at Mt. Hermon; they lost, 80-0.

1892-10-01 00:00:00

Rosabelle Temple begins offering vocal classes.

1893-12-01 00:00:00

Cushing’s original Main Building burns to the ground.

1894-01-01 00:00:00

Main Building is rebuilt

The reconstructed Main Building is dedicated, along with a new Science Building (now called the English Building).

1896-09-01 00:00:00

Students from Armenia

In 1896, Cushing became a place of refuge for four Armenian students who had been caught up in unrest happening in that country. The April 1896 issue of The Breeze says, “Among the new faces which greet us this year, we are glad to welcome four young men from the far-away land of Armenia. May they find here that sympathy and kindly aid which alone can make a strange land seem to them like home.” The young men had had a very difficult time in their homelands and when Headmaster Cowell heard their story, he was “very desirous of helping [them] any way he could,” and so they came to Cushing.

1897-10-01 00:00:00

First basketball game

Cushing organizes its first basketball team and has a pretty good year with only two losses and 12 wins, including one over Yale.

1898-10-01 00:00:00

Girls basketball and an undefeated baseball team

The Cushing Academy baseball team is undefeated. The school organizes the first girls basketball team.

1900-10-01 00:00:00

First alumnus to become Trustee

Walton B. Whitney (1881) becomes the first alumnus to serve as a Trustee. He would serve on the board until 1933.

1900-10-01 00:00:00

Basketball wins a championship

The boys basketball team wins the All New England Championship

1901-10-01 00:00:00

Adams Field

Melvin O. Adams provides funding—at least in part due to fundraising—to grade a lot into Adams field. George F. Hoffman provides the Hoffman Pavilion, which would provide spectator space until about 1960.

1902-10-01 00:00:00

Herbert Nims and student government come to Cushing

Herbert Nims joins the Cushing Faculty. He would serve in one capacity or another for 39 years. The Cushing Academy football team goes undefeated for the first time. Dr. Cowell sets up Cushing’s first student government, although it was not long-lived.

1906-10-01 00:00:00

Alma Mater is written

Cora Coolidge (1887) writes the words to Cushing’s alma mater “The Vine-Clad Tower.”

1908-10-01 00:00:00

First Chinese students come to Cushing

1910-10-01 00:00:00

Boxer Rebellion students seek education at the Academy

Students fleeing the Boxer Rebellion in China come to Cushing.

1911-09-01 00:00:00

First African American student

Cushing’s first African-American student was Oscar Henry Williams, a member of the Class of 1915. His nickname was, according to the senior edition of The Breeze, Oscarwallapus. From Boston, he came to Cushing in the fall of 1911, and so was a four year student as well as Cushing Academy’s first African-American graduate. He was the orchestra’s first fiddle all four years and a “mainstay on the line” for the football team. He served as president and vice president of the Polymnian Society, which focused on parliamentary rules, debate, music, oratory, and composition. In 1912, he won the $10 Brayton Prize for “faithful work and exemplary conduct.” In 1913, he won the Mr. and Mrs. Charles Bond Prize, also $10, for his junior essay entitled “Modern Apple Growing in New England.”

1912-10-01 00:00:00

Ashburnham House is built

Ashburnham House is built with space for 65 boarders, a dining hall with 140 seats, and a small infirmary. There are 30 foreign students, 20 of whom were Chinese.

1913-10-01 00:00:00

A School Boy and a Stone House

Ivers W. Adams erects the School Boy statue at the junction of Main and School Streets. Stone House is purchased by Cushing. The original owner, for whom the house is named, was Oliver Stone, Ashburnham’s cobbler. His cobbler shop was across the street from the Stone House (in 2015, that building serves as the school’s security building). Mr. Stone’s wife, Lilly Duncan Stone, was a member of the Cushing Class of 1893.

1914-10-01 00:00:00

Mr. Cooke comes to Cushing

L. Clyde Cooke comes to Cushing; his service would last until 1958, with the exception of the three years from 1916 to 1919.

1915-01-09 00:00:00

Ashburnham House is rebuilt

Reconstructed Ashburnham House is ready to occupy.

1915-12-04 00:00:00

Fire at Ashburnham House

Fire strikes Ashburnham House, killing teacher Frank Hardy and trapping two town girls, one of whom died. The building is a total loss.

1918-11-11 00:00:00

Cushing and World War I

On Nov. 11, 1918, Germany signed the armistice, ending the Great War. At 4am local time in Ashburnham, the church bells started ringing, waking the whole town. Cushing girls were sent back to their rooms in Lowe Hall until the rising bell rang at 5am, but the boys of Ash House paraded about town shouting with joy. At 6am, there was an impromptu parade through the streets. Headmaster Cowell was at the head of the procession carrying an immense flag. The students followed, shouting and singing, until they lost their voices. In the afternoon, the town held their own parade, with the Cushing community joining in with a float. On the float. one of the teachers was dressed as Lady Liberty and Dr. Cowell as Uncle Sam. At 4:30pm, the students went to the Main Building and proceeded to dance the night away – boys and girls together, an incredibly rare occurrence at the time. They were sent to bed at 9:30pm after a long day celebrating the victory. Approximately 250 Cushing alumni and faculty members were in the service during the war.

1922-10-01 00:00:00

First Winter Carnival and tennis courts

Mr. Cooke organizes the first Winter Carnival. Tennis courts are built near Parkman Hall.

1923-10-01 00:00:00

2nd fire in Main Building

A second fire occurs in the Main Building. The main floor is largely untouched, but it is during the rebuilding of the second floor that the chapel is built.

1923-10-01 00:00:00

Can and Hopkins join the faculty; first hockey, Bette Davis, and The Bulletin

Lois Cann and Vivian Hopkins join the faculty. Cann would serve until 1962 and Hopkins until 1959. The Michael C. Price Ice Rink was built, and the first ice hockey game was played. Bette Davis comes to Cushing. The first alumni publication, the Bulletin, is published.

1925-06-01 00:00:00

A Golden Jubilee

Cushing has its first African American valedictorian. Cushing celebrates its golden jubilee. According to the school’s history by Frank Prentice Rand (1908), 600 alumni attend that event. Rand writes “Our Lady Cushing,” a dramatization of Cushing’s history to that point. He would update the dramatization in 1850 in honor of the school’s 75th anniversary.

1925-06-01 00:00:00

Dr. Cowell leaves, Vose and Gaylor come in

Dr. Cowell steps down as Principal and James W. Vose steps in. Madeline Gaylor joins the music faculty; she would stay at Cushing until 1950.

1925-06-01 00:00:00

First African American valedictorian

William Bryan Geter was valedictorian for the Class of 1925. Known as Billie to her friends, she was a native of Jacksonville, Fla. She was celebrated for her dancing, played the piano, was a member of The Breeze staff, and served as her class secretary.

1928-10-01 00:00:00

Marguerite Sawyer arrives

Marguerite Sawyer comes to Cushing; she would stay until 1967.

1928-10-01 00:00:00

Heslin joins the faculty, the first female Trustee, first cheerleaders

Paul Heslin comes to Cushing; he would stay until 1971. Gertrude S. Brown becomes the first woman Trustee. Mr. Cooke organizes the first group of cheerleaders. On July 6, Dr. Cowell passes away. It was about this time at Mr. Vose instituted Mountain Day as a tribute to Dr. Cowell.

1933-10-01 00:00:00

CA becomes the Penguins, Quimby arrives

The first Penguin yearbook was published, under the direction of Mr. Cooke who named it and thus, the penguin became Cushing’s mascot. Mr. Vose resigns as head of school and Clarence Quimby becomes Cushing’s fifth head.

1934-10-01 00:00:00

Mr. Hanscom and Dr. Mason arrive

Robert Hanscom joins the faculty; he would stay until the spring of 1966. Dr. John Mason begins his 34 year tenure as the school’s doctor.

1937-10-01 00:00:00

Vincent V. R. Booth joins the Board

Vincent V. R. Booth joins the Board of Trustees (he would become President in 1954 and would see the Academy through some difficult times in the 1970s).

1938-10-01 00:00:00

Hurricane hits, debate team does well

A hurricane hits the campus, taking the chimneys off of Lowe Hall, uprooting trees, demolishing the ski jump, and turning off the electricity for several days. The debate team, under the guidance of Headmaster Quimby, places in several tournaments.

1939-10-01 00:00:00

An undefeated football team

Cushing’s football team, with Paul Heslin as coach, goes undefeated.

150 Years of Cushing Academy

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