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 Academy In The 20th Century

“We have to report a year of almost unprecedented prosperity…. We are proud of our school.” So wrote Pres. Ross in his report to the Town for the year ending February 15, 1900. There was enough money, at least, to purchase a Dow’s two-volume “History of Hampton” for $5.50, an amount which was charged to “supplies.” And enrollment increased to 62 from the 47 of the previous year.

The new apparatus, more reference books and a difficult entrance exam (held in June for the following September) — all had made the school confident of receiving State accreditation or approval as a public secondary school. This was afforded in 1901 (and was retained to the end, in 1958). The approval increased the out-of-town enrollment which, in turn, increased the amount of tuition funds available to the school. The Academy could now bill neighboring town governments for the tuition of their residents. Problems occasionally arose in collecting that tuition: for example, in 1904, the Trustees voted to instruct the Principal “to send a bill for Willie Watson’s schooling to the Town of Nottingham for the time he has attended the High School.”

A definite four-year curriculum was now established. Three somewhat different courses of study were offered. The two with Latin and Greek were probably for the boys. The third, with French and Bookkeeping, was meant for the girls. There were no electives in any of the courses.

In 1901, Prof. Sanborn left his teaching post and Everett C. Loring (Bowdoin College) was elected his successor. In 1902, 89 were enrolled. Five area towns paid $590 in nonresident tuition fees — nearly equal to Hampton’s appropriation for tuition. During that year, Pres. Ross was also Chairman of the Board of Education in Hampton and another Trustee, Charles M. Batchelder, was one of the other two members. The next year, the Trustees voted that “a man be employed the night before graduation to protect the property and grounds of Hampton Academy against all depredation.” It was a tradition for boys in the graduating class to “shimmy” up the steeple of the Academy before graduation day. Again, in 1906, the Trustees decided “that Christopher C. Toppan be a committee to have all Boys kept off the Spire of the Academy Building the night before the Graduation.” In 1912, a man was hired “to stop around the Academy Building the night before the Fourth of July to Protect the Buildings from damage.” Much later, in the 1930s, the boys were permitted to ring the bell the night before the Fourth “under complete supervision.” Apparently, enough boys had climbed to the top of the steeple by 1937 to make it loose and unsafe. The National Steeplejack Association removed it under contract. (The 18-inch-diameter wooden hall which capped the spire can be seen at Tuck Museum.)

In 1903 — the same year he was elected to succeed Rev. Ross at the Congregational Church — Rev. Edgar Warren was chosen a Trustee. He authored an historic essay on Hampton entitled “An Old Town By The Sea” and wrote “Hampton Hymn” (the singing of which has since concluded many civic events in Hampton, including the dedication of the new Academy building in 1940). Both writings appeared in the 1938 “Tercentenary Magazine” and the 1970 reprint of Dow’s “History of Hampton.” The tract was made a part of the CONGRESSIONAL RECORD for August 8, 1963 (Vol. 109, No. 122),on the occasion of Hampton’s 325th Anniversary Celebration. Rev. Warren, who authored many other articles including a weekly, front-page “One Minute Sermon” column in the Exeter NEWS-LETTER, was made Pastor Emeritus of the First Congregational Church after his retirement. He resigned from the Board of Trustees in 1908. “having moved away from Town” (but he later returned to Hampton).

In 1904, the school expanded into the second story. Wrote Pres. Ross: “We regret being obliged to take the upper rooms from the G.A.R., but it was a matter of necessity. The classes could no longer be crowded into the recitation room that they were using. This also gives us a laboratory for chemical work, which was greatly needed. A general recitation room is not a safe place for chemicals.” The principal’s office was located on the second floor. In the next century an outside enclosed, wooden fire escape/entrance was constructed on the south side of the building. Until then access to the upper floor would be via a single inside stairway. The trustees also investigated the possibility of having “water put in the school yard” but nothing was done concerning this for another 10 years. For 1904-05, the furnishing of texts to the scholars was left to the discretion of the Board’s Executive Committee.

Early in 1906, Pres. Ross wrote: “The large number of pupils and the requirements of the state superintendent necessitate a second assistant.” Tuition was raised to nonresidents but more support was needed so Rev. Ross asked the Town to increase its Tuition appropriation for 1906 to $700. Reported the Board’s president: “Hon. Mr. Tuck has helped us out the first year, but we can scarcely call on him again…. The small increase of one hundred dollars will not be appreciably felt by the taxpayers, and we know that it will be cheerfully granted. The value of the School to the scholars and the credit it reflects on the town will not permit of any backward steps. What would Hampton be without its Academy?” Again, the increase was voted.

A large class of 14 was graduated in 1906; seven were from Hampton, five from North Hampton, and one each from Seabrook and Rye.

The “First Assistant” to Principal Clarence L. Mitchell in 1905-06 was Anna May Cole (Mount Holyoke Seminary — later, College) who began teaching at the Academy in 1893. She would complete 21 years here before leaving in June 1914. Of Miss Cole, Dr. Merrill wrote in 1894: “… she possesses that force and decision of character which will qualify her for the position she occupies and will aid the Principal in his efforts to elevate the character of the school. “Ten years later, Rev. Ross reported: “Miss Cole is a most valuable assistant, and her place in the school would be very difficult to fill.” Such public evaluation of teachers was a part of the annual reports to the Town (the Academy’s report always separate from primary schools’). During different eras, the “Trustees or Principal reported on the Academy, School Boards reported on the primary and grammar schools, and Superintendents reported on both.

Principal Mitchell, who resigned in June 1907 because the unstable finances of the school had necessitated expenditures out of his own pocket, had suggested that an association of Academy Alumni be formed. Rev. Ross had researched the records and inquired through the press in order to assemble names of those who attended the Academy prior to 1885. With this list and the names of graduates after 1885, notices of the First Annual Meeting of the Hampton Academy Alumni Association were mailed in mid-May 1907. That first meeting, held at the Hampton Beach Casino was a success. The organization prospered through two name changes and in 1971 held its 65th Annual Reunion Banquet.

One of the first projects of the Association was the celebration of the Hampton Academy Centennial in 1910. On June 17, 1910, the Association’s Fourth Annual Meeting was held at the Hampton Town Hall and on Meeting House Green (once known as “Academy Green”). Funds had been solicited so that “brass tablets on a boulder” could be dedicated near the site of the first Academy building on the Green. The Association’s President, Lewis Perkins (who had attended the Academy in the 1860s), welcomed the assemblage. Addresses, a catered dinner and festivities followed, making the occasion “a red-letter day in the history of the Academy.” Current activities of the Association — now the Hampton Academy and Winnacunnet High School Alumni Association — include awarding Alumni Medals (since 1926) to three outstanding graduating seniors each year, an annual Alumni vs. High School Basketball Benefit Night (since the 1947-48 season) and annual scholarship assistance to a graduate of W.H.S. (since 1961-62).

Throughout the early 1900s, Trustee Edward Tuck continued his financial support of the Academy. In 1906, he had underwritten the cost of new apparatus for both chemistry and physics, and for reference books. In 1909, his generosity permitted the purchase of new equipment for the physics apparatus — bringing it up to State requirements. Thereafter, he donated $300 a year until at least 1914. Many votes of thanks were extended to him by the Board (and the Alumni Association). Since he had taken up residence in Paris, his position on the Board was vacated and he was made an Honorary Trustee in 1908.

Although Christopher G. Toppan continued to serve on the Board (and as Treasurer for 30 years) until his death in late June 1914, his son Christopher S. Toppan (II), Class of 1890, was elected a Trustee in 1906. The young Mr. Toppan thus became the first graduate of Hampton Academy and High School to become a Trustee. Christopher S. Toppan, named for his granduncle C.S. Toppan, who was a Trustee from 1860 to 1862, would serve as Treasurer even longer than his father.

The second Trustee-graduate was Howard G. Lane ’87. Elected in 1908 to replace Rev. Warren, he served without equal as Board President for 33 years from the time of Pres. Ross’s retirement in 1914. In 1947, the Trustees honored Mr. Lane by conferring upon him the title of President Emeritus — a title he richly deserved for his long-time service to his Alma Mater.

In 1908, a $1,000 fund was presented to the Trustees in the name of Howard Lane’s father, Joshua A. Lane (who had attended the Academy between 1845 and 1850, and who had died in the spring of 1908); it was quickly put to work earning five percent interest. One of Joshua’s brothers, George W. Lane, served as a Trustee for 21 years, many of which were as Treasurer or as Executive Committee member. Another brother, Charles H. Lane, would later present significant bequests to the Academy.

Howard Lane, a member of that first graduating class and later President of the Alumni Association, was also Town Treasurer, following his father in that post in 1895 at age 26. Howard married a classmate, Sarah Maria Hobbs, the first female graduate of the High School and for many year’s the North Primary school teacher. She, too, later became President of the Alumni Association, ten years after her husband’s two terms.

Howard Lane had finished his preparation for college at the New Hampton School (where he later funded the Lane Building) and, in 1891, was graduated from the N.H. College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts at Hanover (moved to Durham in 1893 and becoming the University of New Hampshire in 1923). He served in the General Court for two terms and, for 24 years, was President of the Hampton Building & Loan Association (now the Hampton Co-operative Bank). He was a Deacon of the Baptist Church and Mrs. Lane held membership in the Congregational Society. They both made sizable donations toward the founding and construction of the Hampton Beach Community Church, dedicated in 1925. While he was President of the Trustees, Mr. Lane held an occasional special meeting in his store at the Lane Block (built in 1900 and still in the family [in 1972]), situated at what was then called “Lane’s Corner.” The store, in the predecessor building diagonally across the intersection to the west (near the Town Pump), had previously been operated by Howard’s uncles, Edwin B. and George W. Lane, and by his father in partnership with Ernest G. Cole ’87{*} (also see Dow’s, Chapter XXXII, “Stores and Trades”).

{*Ernest Cowell Cole ’87 (in 1891 graduated from N.H. State College, now called U.N.H. [University of New Hampshire]), Hampton businessman and public official, was a leading figure in the town for many years. He was very active in the Alumni Association, being its second President. At the 1936 annual Town Meeting, John W. Perkins, ’20, presented alaudatory resolution on the late E. G. Cole. Two years later, at the 1938 Town Meeting, the Town adopted another resolution concerning another Cole – Eunice “Goody” Cole, the reputed witch of the 17th century Hampton. That resolution denounced her conviction as a witch and restored her Hampton citizenship.}

The story of Lane Memorial Library, Howard Lane’s gift to the Town, goes hack to 1908. That year, the Town had pledged $2,000 toward the erection of a public library building should Andrew Carnegie — then spreading the wealth from his U.S. Steel Corp. by building libraries throughout his adopted country — be favorable to the proposition. He wasn’t, so, in memory of his father, Howard Lane built the Lane Memorial Library and presented it to the Town. It was dedicated as the public library of Hampton on December 14, 1910 (two and one-half years after Joshua Lane’s death) with appropriate ceremonies in the Congregational Church across the street. Thus, l06 years after Hampton’s first library (a “social library association”) was founded in 1804, the library had a building of its own for the first time.

The Howard G. Lane Trust Fund ($5,000) and ones set up in the names of his sisters, Sarah Belle Lane ’94 ($2,500) and Ida Mabel Lane ’89 ($500), continue to produce interest income for the support of the Library. (“Sadie” Belle Lane, who lived close to 90 years, also left $500 to the Academy.) Another library trust fund (of $500) was established in the name of Howard, Ida and Sadie’s mother, Lydia Garland Lane (who had attended the Academy in the early 1850s), in 1933 — 15 months after her death at age 94. In 1957, a grant from the H. G. Lane Charitable Trust together with a donation from Howard’s son, Wheaton, provided $10,000 toward the construction of an addition to the original building. A resolution thanking them for the gift was adopted at the annual Town Meeting in March 1957.{**} A photo of the modern structure was featured on the cover of the Town report for that year. A daughter of Howard’s, Eloise Lane Smith, was a great friend of the Lane Library up to the time of her death at age 65 early in 1965.

[**After the destruction by fire on March 19, 1949, of the Hampton Town Hall (originally built in 1797 as the Fifth Meeting House of the Congregational Society), nearly all Town meetings were held in the 1939-40 Academy building.}

The Academy, Hampton churches and other organizations outside of Hampton also benefited from the Howard G. Lane Charitable Trust. Two scholarships are granted each year in the name of Howard’s wife, Sarah, to graduates of Winnacunnet High School.

Howard Garland Lane ’87 died on July 11, 1957, at age 87. He was an outstanding Alumni of the Academy and a great benefactor of Hampton. Portraits of a young Howard Lane and his father hang in the Periodicals [the New Hampshire] Room of the Library.

The year after Mr. Lane’s retirement from active participation in the affairs of the Trustees in 1947, his son, Wheaten Joshua Lane, was chosen to fill the vacated seat. Wheaton attended the Academy with the Class of 1920 for two years before “going on to finish at Phillips Exeter. In 1925, he was graduated with honors (and in possession of a Phi Beta Kappa Key) from Princeton University. He later earned a Master’s at Yale and a Ph.D. at Princeton. He taught at the University of Maine, New York University and — for the longest period — at Princeton. He served as Lt. Commander in the Navy during World War II. Mr. Lane, now a Trustee for nearly 25 years, has homes in Hampton, New Jersey and Maine.

New curricula were adopted by the Trustees for 1908-09. The two similar courses of study previously offered were combined into one and the course meant for the girls was updated. “Curriculum 1” offered four years of Latin, three years of a Modern Language, four years of English, two years of History, and one year each of Algebra, Geometry and Physics. A choice of Math review, Solid Geometry or Advanced Math in the Senior year completed the 16 units needed for graduation. Each year-long, five-period-per-week course constituted one unit. In the Senior year, the five courses were offered for four periods a week and were worth four-fifths of a unit each for a total of four units. “Curriculum 2” consisted of no Latin but three years of a Modern Language and four years of English along with two years of History and one year each of Biology, Algebra. Bookkeeping, Geometry, Physics, Chemistry and Math Review. Again, there were four instead of five subjects during the Senior year but no electives were offered.

The school in 1909-10 was still struggling for funds. From 95 pupils in 1906-07, enrollment had decreased in 1908 due to “temporary conditions.” But it had shot back up in 1909-10 (nearly double the previous year). The State Superintendent was requiring more reference books and changes “in relation to the entrance examination.” Wrote Rev. Ross: “Thanks to the generosity of Hon. Edw. Tuck we close the year (on June 30, 1909) without debt. But this is a state of matters that is not creditable and ought not to be. Year after year we struggle with a lack of funds. The Academy’s request for Town funds appeared in the School District warrant beginning in 1910. The income of the Academy for the year ending June 30, 1910, included $64 from an Alumni gift, $300 from Mr. Tuck, $800 from Hampton for tuition and $170 for supplies, $520 from tuition for nonresidents, and $339 from investments (interest on the total of $8,000 in the trusts). “There was a deficit of $66 for the fiscal year which coincided with the academic year.

The students were also raising money. In 1912 the Senior Class held a strawberry festival on the lawn of the Baptist Church. The Seniors usually held such events as dramas to raise money fur their class trip to Washington, D.C., and/or New York City. “They also had to pay for the printing of their graduation programs and tickets until the mid-1920s when the Trustees assumed the expense (thereafter the names of the Trustees and faculty members appeared on the programs). There were other (one-day) cultural and historical trips to Boston and Concord, N.H. Some social events became annual affairs: one-act plays and musicales before the Parent-Teacher Association; Senior and Junior Plays and Proms; Junior Class Prize-Speaking Contest; and so forth. In 1914, the students held an “Immigrant Party” in the auditorium of the Town Hall for the benefit of the Music Department which was threatened with curtailment. (The “Teacher of Singing” at the Academy during this period was Carl Akeley who was shared with the public schools.) According to the Exeter NEWS-LETTER‘s Hampton correspondent,{***} the “Immigrant Party”consisted of students giving recitations while dressed in the native costumes of the Irish, Scots, English, Negroes, Dutch, German, Spaniards, Italians and Jews. They also held a concert, sang songs and performed piano solos, with homemade refreshments being sold afterward. So much concern was generated that Mrs. Hattie A. Cutler gave the Academy a piano.

{***The Hampton column during this time until well into the 1930s) was signed “L.” for Sadie Hobbs Lane ’87. Following her reporting days, the weekly offering was penned by “H.” — Hilda Paulsen Morse ’22 — who continues it to this day [1972].}

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