Choate Rosemary Hall: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Choate Rosemary Hall

"Fidelitas et Integritas"

Archbold (dorm) detail 2 - Choate Rosemary Hall.jpg

Headmaster Edward J. Shanahan
Established 1890
School type Private, Boarding
Religious affiliation None
Location Wallingford, Connecticut, U.S.
Enrollment 850
Faculty 120
Campus Suburban
Mascot Wild Boar
Colors Rosemary Blue and Choate Blue and Gold;

Choate Rosemary Hall (also known as Choate) is a private, college-preparatory, coeducational boarding school located in Wallingford, Connecticut. It took its present name and coeducational form with the merger in 1971 of two eminent single-sex establishments, The Choate School (founded in 1896 in Wallingford) and Rosemary Hall (founded in 1890 in Wallingford, but resident from 1900 to 1971 in Greenwich, Connecticut). At the merger, the Wallingford campus was enlarged with a complex of modernist buildings on its eastern edge to accommodate the women from Greenwich.

Choate is a member of the Eight Schools Association, begun informally in 1973-74 and formalized at a 2006 meeting at Lawrenceville School, when Choate headmaster Edward Shanahan was appointed its first president. He was succeeded in 2009 by Elizabeth Duffy, head of Lawrenceville. The member schools are Choate, Phillips Academy (known as Andover), Phillips Exeter Academy (known as Exeter), Deerfield Academy, St. Paul's School, Hotchkiss School, Lawrenceville School, and Northfield Mount Hermon.[1]

Choate is also a member of the Ten Schools Admissions Organization, established in 1966 and comprising Choate, Andover, Exeter, Deerfield, St. Paul's, Hotchkiss, Lawrenceville, Taft School, Loomis Chaffee, and The Hill School.

Among Choate's alumni are President John F. Kennedy, two-time Presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson, playwright Edward Albee, novelist John Dos Passos, philanthropist Paul Mellon, actors Glenn Close, Michael Douglas, Paul Giamatti, and Jamie Lee Curtis, translator of Homer and poet Robert Fitzgerald, cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church and educator Avery Dulles, and My Fair Lady librettist Alan Jay Lerner.



Paul Mellon Humanities Center, built 1938, designed by Charles Fuller

Choate is noted for the breadth of its curriculum, including an array of elective and interdisciplinary courses, from astronomy and architecture to printmaking and post-modernism to a dozen foreign and ancient languages.[2] Area specializations include the Arts Concentration Program and a two-year intensive Science Research Program with summer laboratory work at universities in the United States and abroad.

The performing and visual arts programs are supported by the resources of the Paul Mellon Arts Center. The senior year Capstone Project focuses on a single academic area, and the Senior Project Program provides on- or off-campus internships in academic research, visual art, and the performing arts. Other specialized programs include American Studies, creative writing,economics, mathematics, philosophy, psychology, religion, debate, and the Fed Challenge. One-third of Choate students participate in study-abroad programs in China, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.

There are about 240 courses in the curriculum, which has requirements in community service and in contemporary global studies. All disciplines have honors courses. There is advanced placement preparation in 25 areas, and more than 80 percent of students score a 4 or 5 on AP exams.

Choate regularly produces semifinalists and finalists in the Intel Science Talent Search and in the Siemens Competition in science. In economics Choate's Fed Challenge team was the 2009 national champion and has won the New England District Championship in 10 of the past 12 years. The school's chamber orchestra performed at the White House in December 2009 and the Maiyeros, an a capella group, performed at Westminster Abbey in 2008. In the past two years Choate orchestras and choral groups have toured Europe and China, and performed at Lincoln Center in New York. The school's student-operated radio station, WWEB, is FCC-licensed and has been broadcasting since 1969.

Statistical profile

Seymour St. John Chapel, built 1924, designed by Ralph Adams Cram

Choate enrolls 630 boarding and 220 day students representing 41 states and 41 countries. 38 percent of students identify themselves as persons of color. For the 2008-2009 year total fees were $43,380 for boarders and $33,030 for day students. Financial aid totaling $8.5 million was awarded to 33 percent of the student body, the average award being $33,570 for boarders and $22,400 for day students. For the 2009-2010 year there were 1,682 applicants for 269 places.

The faculty numbers 109 full-time and 10 part-time instructors, 70 percent of whom hold advanced degrees. There are in addition 48 administrative faculty. The student-faculty ratio is 6:1, and the average class size is 12. Edward J. Shanahan has been headmaster of Choate since 1991, when he arrived from Dartmouth where he had been Dean of the College. Each spring Shanahan teaches a senior elective course on Irish Literature.

Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish chaplains serve Choate's campus ministry. Services include Christian fellowship, Roman Catholic mass, Buddhist meditation, Hillel, the Spiritual Alternatives and Monthly Reflections programs, and other student worship groups.[3]

There are five college-placement counselors at the school. From 2005 to 2009 the most popular college destinations of Choate graduates were Georgetown with 48 matriculating, 33 at NYU, 32 at Yale, 27 at Boston University, 26 each at Boston College and George Washington, 25 each at Brown, Columbia, Cornell, and Tufts, 24 each at Harvard and Wesleyan, 23 at Dartmouth, 21 each at Princeton and Penn, 20 at St Andrews University in Scotland, 19 each at Johns Hopkins and Colgate.[4]

In June 2007 Choate's endowment was $267 million. In November 2006 the school inaugurated a capital campaign with a target of $200 million and by January 2010 gifts and pledges of $167 million had been secured.[5]

The school fields eighty-one interscholastic athletic teams in thirty-two sports. Choate's historical archrival in athletic competition is Deerfield Academy. The final weekend of the fall season is Deerfield Day (at Deerfield it's called called Choate Day), when the two schools compete in every sport at varsity and sub-varsity levels.

Buildings and facilities

Georgian ensemble on the west campus: Andrew Mellon Library, George Steele Hall, Paul Mellon Humanities Center, and Memorial House

The 458-acre (1.85 km2) campus contains 121 buildings in a variety of architectural styles. Georgian Revival predominates (examples by famed traditionalist architect Ralph Adams Cram and by Polhemus & Coffin), but there are also eighteenth- and nineteenth-century houses and dramatic modernist structures (examples by I.M. Pei and by James Polshek). All dormitory rooms have Internet2 high-speed access, and there is wireless access in all academic buildings, the Student Activities Center, and Johnson Athletic Center. Choate Information Place (CHIP) is the electronic information resource for the campus.

Principal buildings are in Georgian red brick, often with imposing classical porticoes that were, by design, the unifying architectural feature of the early building phase.[6] Of this type are, in chronological order:

  • Hill House: Built 1911, designed by Francis Waterman; administration offices, with dormitory above.
  • West Wing: Built 1914; adjoining Hill House, a dining hall, with dormitory above.
  • John Joseph Activities Center (formerly Gymnasium): Built 1917 as a gym, renovated 1979; now the student union, mail room, tuck shop, cyber cafe, games room, and school store, with a connector to the Larry Hart Pool.
  • Memorial House: Built 1921; dormitory on the northwest campus, designed to mirror Hill House on the southwest campus.
  • Seymour St. John Chapel (formerly St. Andrew's Chapel): Built 1924, designed by Ralph Adams Cram; recently the filming location for commercials of the Royal Bank of Scotland.
  • Andrew Mellon Library: Built 1925, designed by Edward Mellon; given by U.S. Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon P'25; Library special collections include correspondence and memorabilia of John F. Kennedy, Adlai Stevenson, Edward Albee, Caresse Crosby and other alumni, the Haffenreffer Collection of early American documents and autographs, and collections related to Thomas Hardy and other writers.[7]
  • Archbold: Built 1928, designed by Ralph Adams Cram; its scale on the northeast campus mirrors those of Hill House and Memorial House on the west campus; formerly the largest school infirmary in the country, it now houses the visitor center and admissions office, with dormitory above.
  • The Hall: Built 1929; adjoining West Wing, a cavernous dining hall, with dormitory above.
  • Paul Mellon Humanities Center (formerly Paul Mellon Science Hall): Built 1938, designed by Charles Fuller 1938; houses the digital video lab and the departments of English, History, Philosophy, Religion, and Social Sciences.
  • Logan Munroe House: Built 1947; dormitory forming an ensemble with Memorial House, Nichols House, and Pitman House, linked by "Mem Circle" on the northwest campus.
  • Nichols House: Built 1948, designed by Polhemus & Coffin; dormitory.
  • George and Clara St. John Hall: Built 1957; departments of Mathematics and Computer Science.
  • Pitman House: Built 1960; dormitory.
  • Library new wing: Built 1963; dedication poem read by Robert Frost.
  • Steele Hall: Built 1967; departments of foreign languages.
  • Tenney House and South House: Built 2008, designed by Centerbrook Architects; it follows the residential college model, the houses flank a courtyard and have a connector archway.
Paul Mellon Arts Center, designed by I.M. Pei
Carl C. Icahn Center for Science, designed by I.M. Pei

The I.M. Pei-designed buildings on campus are:

  • Paul Mellon Arts Center ("PMAC"): Built 1972, the gift of Paul Mellon; it was prototype for the Pei-designed East Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, which was also a Paul Mellon benefaction; with an 850-seat proscenium theater designed by George Izenour, a black box theater, a recital hall, film studio, exhibition galleries, fine arts studios, music practice rooms, associated dressing rooms, and classrooms; the PMAC is also the home of the Wallingford Symphony Orchestra and a frequent venue for touring companies.[8]
  • Icahn Center for Science (formerly Paul Mellon Science Center): Built 1989, the gift of Paul Mellon, renamed in 2001 following a gift from Carl C. Icahn; with 22 classrooms, laboratories, conservatory, and auditorium; departments of Physics, Chemistry, and Biology.

Other large-scale buildings and athletic facilities include:

  • The Rosemary Hall campus: Built 1971, designed by James Polshek; a complex on the heights of the northeast campus comprising, among other buildings, Bronfman, originally a library, now the Learning Community Day Care Center; Macquire Gymnasium; and Brownell, which houses the offices of Alumni Relations, Development, and Information Technology.
  • Sally Hart Lodge: Built 1850; the alumni center, guest house, and "hotel" of the school.
  • Pratt Health Center: The infirmary, staffed by 24-hour duty nurses and a pediatrician resident on campus; with the offices of Counseling and Community Service.
  • Clinton Knight House and McCook House: Built 1966, designed by Frank Winder '39; twin white-brick dormitories, each forming a quadrangle with central skylight atrium.
  • Worthington Johnson Athletic Center: Built 1932, designed by Lewis Augustus Coffin; north wing added in 2002, designed by Herbert Newman and Partners; originally called the Winter Exercise Building ("Winter Ex") and renamed in 1976; an enormous building whose central room was used by the Boston Braves in 1943 as their spring training infield; the WJAC contains two basketball courts, international squash courts, wrestling room, volleyball courts, suspended indoor track, ergometric room for crew, fitness and training rooms, and dance and aerobics studios.
  • Remsen Arena: Built 1967, renovated 2006; ice hockey facility among whose recent alumnae are four women's Team USA Olympians.
  • Larry Hart Pool: Built 1978, designed by Jeter, Cook & Jepson; a 25-meter, 8-lane, solar-heated pool, with electronic timing system and underwater windows.
  • Bruce and Lueza Gelb Track: Built 2008; an 8-lane synthetic track with adjacent facilities for jumping and throwing events.
  • Hunt Tennis Center: Built 1995; in a terraced garden setting, with clubhouse, coaches' offices, and 22 tennis courts, six of which are all-weather USTA regulation.
  • Sylvester Boathouse: Built 1985; on Lake Quonnipaug, the crew race course.[9]


Andrew Mellon Library, built 1925

Choate competes in many sports against schools from all over New England and adjacent states. Teams are fielded at the levels of varsity, junior varsity, and thirds sections. There is also a world of intramural participation. Interscholastic sports in the fall term include cross-country, field hockey, crew, football, soccer, volleyball, and boys' water polo. Winter sports include archery, basketball, ice hockey, squash, swimming and diving, and wrestling. Spring sports include baseball, golf, crew, lacrosse, softball, tennis, track and field, volleyball, and girls water polo. Intramural sports include aerobics, dance, senior weight training, yoga, winter running, rock climbing, fitness and conditioning, and senior volleyball.


Archbold, built 1928, designed by Ralph Adams Cram

Choate Rosemary Hall is rich in traditional events:

  • Matriculation Ceremony at the start of school, in which each student signs a pledge card of commitment "to personal growth, to integrity, to self-discipline, and to caring for others."
  • Cake Race is held on the last day of fall classes. Students and staff throng the cross country course for a 5K race, with winners in each form awarded a cake.
  • Festival of Lessons and Carols is based on a service held in King's College Chapel, Cambridge. The yuletide candlelight event in Seymour St. John Chapel includes Bible readings, music by Choate choruses and instrumental groups, and carol-singing by the congregation.
  • Physics Phlotilla takes place in spring term. Students gather on the banks of the Science Center Pond to watch a competition among makeshift cardboard boats. The principles of buoyancy are tested, and many craft are sunk. Students must sail their boats the length of the pond and there are prizes for speed and creative design.
  • ""First Hurrah"" is the final social event for the juniors hosted by the seniors. It marks 100 more days till the end of school.
  • Last Hurrah is the final social event for seniors, known (in British-influenced terminology[10]) as sixth formers. Traditionally sixth formers enjoy a reception, dinner, ballroom dance, and swing dance competition.
  • Garden Party, a Rosemary Hall tradition, takes place in spring term. Sixth form girls invite a fifth form (junior class) girl and a faculty member. They exchange flowers, take pictures, and pass on Rosemarian traditions to the rising senior girls. A slideshow is then presented. In response to Garden Party, Choate boys have created a "Parden Garty" and are now included in the slideshow portion of the event.


Memorial House, built 1921, a third form (first-year) boys dormitory
  • The Brief, founded 1900, yearbook
  • The News, founded 1907, weekly newspaper; one of the oldest high school student-produced weeklies in the country
  • The Lit, founded 1915, literary magazine; it published Edward Albee's first play
  • Choate Rosemary Hall Bulletin, founded 1939, alumni magazine
  • The Press, twice-weekly sports publication
  • The Horizon, academic review with student essays
  • Beyond Choate, world and national news weekly[11]

History: Early years

Squire Stanley House, built 1690-1750 and visited in 1775 by George Washington. The Choate School began here in 1896. It is now a third form (first-year) girls dormitory.

The schools that would eventually become Choate Rosemary Hall were begun by members of two prominent New England families, the Choates and Atwaters.[12]

Rosemary Hall was founded in 1890 by Mary Atwater Choate at Rosemary Farm in Wallingford, her girlhood home and the summer residence of Mary and her husband, William Gardner Choate. Mary, an alumna of Miss Porter's School, was the great-granddaughter of Caleb Atwater (1741-1832), a Connecticut merchant magnate who supplied the American forces during the Revolutionary War. In 1775 General George Washington visited the Atwater store in Wallingford en route to assuming command of the Continental Army. On that occasion, Washington took tea with judge Oliver Stanley at the "Red House," now Squire Stanley House on the Choate campus.

In 1878 Mary Atwater Choate had co-founded a vocational organization for Civil War widows, the New York Exchange for Women's Work, prototype of many such exchanges across the country (it survived until 2003).[13] In 1889 Mary planned a new institution on the same principle of female self-sufficiency and she advertised in The New York Times for a headmistress to run a school that would train girls in the "domestic arts." The advertisement was answered by Caroline Ruutz-Rees, a 25-year-old Briton teaching in New Jersey.[14]

On October 3, 1890, the New Haven Morning News reported: "The opening of Rosemary Hall took place at Wallingford yesterday ... at the beautiful Rosemary Farms, which have been the property of Mrs. Choate's family for five generations. The school occupied a house belonging to Mrs. Choate, standing near the old Atwater homestead, which the members of the school will have the privilege of visiting as often as they like. ... Rev. Edward Everett Hale addressed the school girls in his inimitable way, at once attractive and helpful. 'Never forget,' said he, 'that it is a great art to do what you do well. If you limp, limp well, and if you dance, dance well'."

This original school building, "old" Atwater House (built 1758), was at the northwest corner of Christian and Elm streets, where "new" Atwater House now stands. The eight arriving girls lived on the second floor, the headmistress's residence and classrooms occupied the ground floor, and the dining room was in the basement. More space was soon required and neighboring houses were rented from the Choates. The "old Atwater homestead" (built 1774, now known as Homestead), stands at the center of the present day campus, on the northeast corner of Christian and Elm.

Caroline Ruutz-Rees (1865-1954), headmistress of Rosemary Hall until 1938, was a figure of extraordinary personality and influence, a militant feminist and suffragist of national prominence. On the Wallingford golf course she wore bloomers, which shocked the locals, and on buggy rides to Wallingford station she carried a pistol. Her motto was "No rot."[15] She held a Lady Literate in Arts from the St Andrews University and would eventually earn a doctorate at Columbia. Ruutz-Rees (pronounced "Ar-Treece") quickly changed Rosemary Hall's mission from "domestic arts" to that of a contemporary boys school. Her personal curriculum for the next four decades had three core components: student self-government, contact sports, and a brutal workload of academics.

Ruutz-Rees taught the classical languages, history, and French. In 1897 she was the first headmistress of an American girls' school to prescribe uniform dress, and over time the Rosemarian uniform became increasingly elaborate, with cape, star-shaped berets, and much seasonal and occasional variety. Equally elaborate was Rosemarian ritual and tradition, most of it invented by Ruutz-Rees. Her faculty followed the British practice of wearing academic robes in class and addressing students by their last names. Ruutz-Rees herself always wore azure silk dresses and a necklace of amber beads.

The Homestead, built 1774. A small door leads to a secret passage behind the chimney that may have been a station on the Underground Railroad.

The Choate School was founded by William and Mary Choate in 1896. William Gardner Choate (1830-1921), Harvard class of 1852, was U.S. District Judge for the Southern Circuit of New York from 1878 to 1881, and afterward a partner of Shipman, Barlow, Laroque, and Choate. He was a national authority on admiralty, railroad, bankruptcy, and corporation law.[16] Like his younger, more famous brother, he was a prominent clubman (Harvard and The Century). That brother was Joseph Hodges Choate, lawyer, prosecutor of the Tweed Ring, and Ambassador to the Court of St. James.

William and Mary Choate invited Mark Pitman (1830-1905), their tenant in the aforementioned Red House, to start a boys school under their sponsorship. Pitman, Bowdoin class of 1859, was sixty-six years old, a widower, and had been principal of Woolsey School in New Haven, Connecticut, since 1872.[17] He accepted the Choates' offer, not least perhaps because it would provide employment for his unmarried adult daughters, Leila, Elizabeth, and Helen. Six boys entered the new school in fall term 1896, their average age about ten. Four of the six lived in Red House with the Pitmans, and Red House (Squire Stanley House) has remained a first-year dormitory to the present day.

Pitman taught Latin, English, history, and science; Elizabeth taught art, Helen piano, and Leila was writing teacher and school nurse. Mary Choate's physician brother, Dr. Huntington Atwater, taught crafts and was school doctor. There was no formal relationship with the Choates' other foundation, Rosemary Hall, a hundred yards to the east on Christian Street, but there were coeducational audiences for plays and recitals and Mary Choate hosted dances at the Homestead, an Atwater family residence since 1774.

In 1897 the boys school erected Choate House across the street from Red House, the first purpose-built institutional building (and John Kennedy's dormitory in 1931-2). It contained recitation rooms, an infirmary, a dining room, and housing for fifteen boys. In 1899 Choate House was venue for the first "Junior Dance," but a year later the Rosemary girls would depart for a seventy-one year absence.

The official history of Choate Rosemary Hall, written by Tom Generous, says that the rift between Caroline Ruutz-Rees and Mary Choate, proponents of two very different sorts of feminism, was public knowledge as early as 1896, in which year headmistress and founder did not share the lectern at Prize Day and local newspapers published "denials" of a rumor that Ruutz-Rees would leave the school.[18] But by 1900 the headmistress and her educational style had acquired influential champions among the students' parents and two of them, residents of Greenwich, Connecticut, a wealthy enclave twenty-five miles from midtown Manhattan, joined forces to effect the removal of the school to their town.

Shipping magnate Nathaniel Witherell donated five acres of land in the Rock Ridge section of Greenwich. Julian Curtiss gathered a group of investors and established a joint stock corporation funded through the sale of six-percent bonds. Ruutz-Rees was the chief shareholder. The Greenwich residence of Rosemary Hall began in fall term 1900, when 57 girl students moved into the Main Building, known as "The School," a U-shaped shingled house on Zaccheus Mead Lane. Other facilities on the property were a wood-frame building that would be the gym for many years, a tennis court, and a running track. In the next two decades the campus would build or acquire other "cottages" and lay out an Italian garden, the gift in 1912 of Janet Ruutz-Rees, mother of the headmistress.

The heart of the campus was St. Bede's Chapel, built with $15,000 collected at bake sales, teas, and benefits, and from every constituency of the school. Construction began in 1906 and consecration was performed October 18, 1909, by the Episcopal bishop of Connecticut, Chauncey Bunce Brewster. St. Bede's was Middle English Gothic, with granite walls, unnailed slate roof, hand-hewn timbers, Welsh red tile floor, and a 16-foot altar window of handmade English glass, designed by Christopher Whall. From 1915 to 1965 the handwritten name of every graduate was painted in gold on the ceiling.

In Wallingford, Mark Pitman had died on December 3, 1905. Until 1908 Sumner Blakemore was titular headmaster, but the school was effectively the domain of the three Pitman sisters. At the 1908 graduation ceremony the Japanese Consul General watched his countryman Noyobu Masuda give the valedictory address. Then Judge Choate introduced the man who would assume the headmastership in the fall, George St. John, and his wife, Clara Seymour St. John. She was a Bryn Mawr alumna, member of a well-connected Connecticut family, sister of future (1937-1951) Yale president Charles Seymour, and descendant of Yale president (1740-1766) Thomas Clap.

George Clair St. John (1877-1966), Harvard class of 1902, aged 31 in the fall of 1908, had grown up on a farm in Hoskins Station, Connecticut. He was an ordained Episcopal priest. He had taught at Hill School in Pennsylvania and Adirondack-Florida School, and was teaching at Hackley School in Tarrytown, N.Y., when Samuel Dutton of Columbia Teachers College recruited him for the headmastership. St. John "knew, long before I read Mr. Dutton's letter, that I wanted some day to have a school of my own. In my thought about it, Dean Briggs was my first text."[19] This was LeBaron Russell Briggs, dean of men at Harvard when St. John was there and afterward dean of the faculty until 1925. Briggs, St. John wrote, "fathered the whole college ... had perceptions like a father, a mother, an older brother," and the St. Johns too would serve in loco parentis.

Their first move to secure parental powers was decisive. In September 1909, as the official history tells it, the St. Johns "signed with the Choates an 'Agreement to Lease and Purchase.' Under its terms, the younger couple rented the school, its property and reputation, for five years at a sum equal to 11 percent of The Choate School's net income per year. ... Less than twenty months later, on May 12, 1911, St. John reported to the trustees that he had purchased the title to the school by acquiring mortgages of roughly $41,000. He resold the title in turn to The Choate School, Incorporated, for $23,000 cash and $38,000 in stock ... For all intents and purposes, The Choate School belonged to George St. John."[20]

In his first quarter-century as headmaster, St. John created much of Choate as it is regarded today. Of the Georgian brick and stone campus, he had built by 1932 Hill House, West Wing, the Gymnasium, Memorial House, the Chapel, the Library, the Winter Exercise Building, and Archbold Infirmary, which was the largest school infirmary in the country. He grew the enrollment from 35 to 505 boys and the faculty from 5 to 64 masters. In the decade following the First World War (classes of 1918 to 1928) Choate sent 412 of its 618 graduates to Yale, Princeton, and Harvard, according to a table published in The Choate News in fall term 1928.[21]

George St. John belonged to the generation of legendary, long-serving headmasters who shaped the New England prep school, chief among whom were Endicott Peabody of Groton, Frank Boyden of Deerfield, Horace Dutton Taft of Taft, Frederick Sill of Kent, Samuel Drury of St. Paul's, Alfred Stearns of Andover, Lewis Perry of Exeter, and George Van Santvoord of Hotchkiss.[22]

The Rev. George St. John of Choate was succeeded in 1947 by his son, the Rev. Seymour St. John '31 (1912-2006), and the "St. John dynasty" was continued to 1973. Seymour was Yale class of 1935 and was ordained at Episcopal Theological Seminary (now Virginia Theological Seminary) in 1942. During his time as head he built as many buildings as his father had built, greatly broadened the curriculum, raised the national profile of the school, and made it more progressive (Eleanor Roosevelt, Norman Thomas, and William Sloane Coffin were regular speakers) and cosmopolitan (Russian, Near Eastern, and Afro-American studies centers were founded, and Russian, Chinese, and Arabic courses were begun). St. John was a longtime advocate of coeducation and initiated the Choate-Rosemary contacts. At his death, headmaster Edward Shanahan told the New York Times, "The merger demanded an enormous expenditure of resources by Choate because the building of a new campus was to occur within the footprints of its property. Seymour was central to the decision to expand those resources."[23]

History: Timeline

Nichols House, built 1948, designed by Polhemus & Coffin. In 1971 it was the inaugural girls dormitory on the original boys campus
  • 1889 R (Rosemary Hall): Mary Atwater Choate advertises in New York for a headmistress.
  • 1890 R: Foundation of the school by M.A. Choate; Caroline Ruutz-Rees begins 48 years as headmistress; 8 girls enroll. October 2, opening ceremonies held.
  • 1891 R: First election of Optima, or best girl; the honor was bestowed until 1977.
  • 1892 R: First publication of The Question Mark, a literary magazine, one of the earliest of its type in an American girls school.
  • 1893 R: Thekla Ruutz-Rees Goldmark, the headmistress's sister, begins 50 years of teaching music. Spring term, first Shakespeare play performed. First interscholastic cricket match played against Pelham Manor.
  • 1894 R: First interscholastic basketball game played against New Haven Normal School.
  • 1895 R: In May, first Sixth Form Walk, about 45 miles in three days, the route being Wallingford, Durham, Middletown, Southington, Wallingford.
  • 1896 C (Choate School): Foundation of the school by William Gardner Choate and Mary Atwater Choate; from 1896 to 1908 all annual deficits are paid by Judge Choate. Mark Pitman begins his nine-year tenure. 6 boys enroll.
  • 1896 R: 20 girls.
  • 1897 C: Choate House built. Dramatic Club mounts its first play in Choate House library. Good Government Club begins, the precursor of student council.
  • 1897 R: First election of The Committee, the student self-governance body; it lasted until 1971.
  • 1898 R: Sixth formers required to pass the Bryn Mawr College entrance exam in order to graduate; the requirement lasted 39 years.
  • 1899 C: 20 boys. Dining room "French Table" begins. May 13, first interscholastic baseball game played against Wallingford High School. December 9, first interscholastic basketball game played against Wallingford High.
  • 1900 C: In March, basketball game against Stearns School played at Company K Armory, with RH girls forming a cheering section. Debates held between two secret societies, the Owls (standing for wisdom) and Helvetians (fidelity and honor). Spring term, first publication of The Brief, the yearbook. Fall term, first interscholastic football season, record of 2-1.
  • 1900 R: School relocates to Greenwich. 57 girls.
  • 1901 C: Gymnasium built for $15,000, the gift of Julius Meyerowitz.[24] The Lodge (now Sally Hart Lodge) and Bungalow bought. "Ice polo," the precursor of hockey, plays four-game season.
  • 1902 C: 40 boys. Atwater House, formerly occupied by Rosemary Hall, becomes the main building. The Cabin, a "science museum" and workshop, is donated by Judge Choate. Boys install wiring in Choate House for room-to-room telephoning. First "Big Dance," eventually to become Festivities.
  • 1904 C: Library space is added to Atwater House. Charles Vezin Jr, future pole-vault world record-holder, is on the track team.
  • 1905 C: December 3, headmaster Mark Pitman dies.
  • 1907 C: Publication of The Choate Chronicle, a newspaper adjunct to The Brief; it was precursor to The Choate News. Ray Brown begins 40 years as math teacher and head of lower school.
  • 1907 R: Cambridge-educated Mary Elizabeth Lowndes begins 31 years as teacher and, from 1910, co-headmistress.
  • 1908 C: Fall term, George St. John begins 39 years as headmaster; he lives in Curtis House (now Sally Hart Lodge), which will remain the official headmaster's residence until 1997. 35 boys, 5 masters. The school occupies 10 acres. Choate Orchestra begins. The Choate Chronicle is renamed The Choate News.[25]
  • 1908 R: First publication of The Answer Book, the yearbook; its title was suggested by The Question Mark; it merged with The Brief in 1973.
  • 1909 C: First Seal Prize awarded to outstanding sixth former (senior); since 1982 also awarded to sixth form girl.
  • 1909 R: October 18, consecration of St. Bede's Chapel.
  • 1910 R: Fall term, Lady Baden-Powell, wife of the Boy Scouts founder, awards Caresse Crosby '11 the eagle and the amulet, thereby making her the (unofficial) first American Girl Scout.[26]
  • 1911 C: May 12, St. John "buys" the school for $23,000 cash and $38,000 in stock. May 30, dedication of Hill House; it cost $40,000, mainly the gift of St. John's Harvard friend Arthur Hoe. John Dos Passos graduates. Fall term, 103 boys, 13 masters. Courtenay Hemenway begins 43 years as history teacher and ice hockey coach.
  • 1911 R: Kindly Club founded by Janet Ruutz-Rees, mother of the headmistress, "to spread the spirit of kindliness throughout the school," and perform intramural and extramural charity.
  • 1912 C: 124 boys, 16 masters. The glee cub begins.
  • 1913 C: St. Andrew's Society founded; it operates a camp for underprivileged boys from New York, staffed by Choate boys; it lasted until 1965. Boathouse on Community Lake and two shells are given by Nathaniel W. Bishop.
  • 1914 C: February 4, first meal served in newly completed West Wing dining hall. Fall term, 131 boys, 17 masters.
  • 1915 C: 142 boys enroll. First publication of The Choate Literary Magazine. Crew begins; tennis club begins.
  • 1916 C: March 16, Meyerowitz Gymnasium destroyed by fire. Golf club begins. Fall term, 177 boys, 23 masters. George Steele begins 40 years as math teacher, dean of students, and assistant headmaster. Frank Wheeler begins 36 years as teacher and director of studies. Russell Ayres begins 43 years as history teacher and varsity coach of baseball, tennis, golf, and hockey. The Gables is bought.
  • 1916 R: Elfrida Richardson begins 43 years as choirmistress and organist.
  • 1917 C: Spring term, the new Gymnasium (now John Joseph Activities Center) is completed. Orchard House and Further Cottage are bought. Fall term, 200 boys, 25 masters. Robert E. Lewis begins 30 years as Latin, geography, and math teacher and baseball coach.
  • 1918 C: Battalion Companies A, B, C, D organized. Adlai Stevenson graduates. William Shute begins 40 years as math teacher.
  • 1918 R: Spring term, first Garden Party; the event has lasted to the present.
  • 1919 C: Chester Bowles graduates. Darling House bought. Fall term, 237 boys, 28 masters.
  • 1919 R: Eugenia Baker Jessup '10 begins 39 years as teacher and, from 1938, headmistress. Carrington House is bought
  • 1920 C: The Parsonage, East Cottage, and Ayres, Church, and Long Houses are bought; East Cottage will be John Kennedy's fourth form residence. Fall term, 253 boys, 32 masters. The choir begins.
  • 1921 C: 271 boys, 34 masters. Fall term, Memorial House is completed; there were 280 donors,[27] including Andrew Mellon, who gave $15,000. Stanley Pratt begins 39 years as theater and public speaking teacher. "Admiral" Austin Meeks '16 arrives to coach crew to regional dominance in the 1920s and 1930s; by 1933 Choate rows eight shells.
  • 1921 R: Rose Bruno begins 50 years as school "receptionist."
  • 1922 C: 299 boys, 38 masters. First Deerfield Day; Choate football wins 28-6.
  • 1923 C: 322 boys, 40 masters. Brown-Massie House bought.
  • 1923 R: November 11, the Main Building burns to the ground and all school records are destroyed.
  • 1924 C: 339 boys, 43 masters. Creation of "The Choate School Chapel Foundation"; it attracts 624 donors. Completion of the Chapel; designed by Ralph Adams Cram and constructed by Choate staff; Andrew Mellon's donation was $25,000. Choate Farm is bought and the school dairy built.
  • 1924 R: The Main Building is rebuilt. The school sells 30-year, six-percent bonds. 200 girls enroll, including 56 boarders.
  • 1925 C: Paul Mellon graduates. Woodhouse is bought. 361 boys, 45 masters. George F. Porter begins 42 years as math teacher and baseball coach. John J. Maher '22 begins 29 years as football coach.
  • 1926 C: Spring term, Andrew Mellon Library is completed; Mellon gave $150,000 of its $200,000 cost. Fall term, 401 boys, 50 masters. Dudley Fitts begins 15 years as classics teacher, organist, choirmaster, and published poet and translator; while at Choate, he and his former student Robert Fitzgerald '29 publish translations of Alcestis of Euripides (1936) and Antigone of Sophocles (1939).[28]
  • 1927 C: 426 boys, 57 masters. The Deaconage bought.
  • 1927 R: 208 girls.
  • 1928 C: 452 boys, 57 masters. John Ed Wilfong begins 38 years as science teacher, nurseryman, and landscape architect; he starts the nursery. Completion of John D. Archbold Infirmary, the gift of Anne Saunderson Archbold, mother of John '29; designed by Ralph Adams Cram and constructed by Choate staff.
  • 1928 R: Nation's best field hockey varsity begins three-year unbeaten streak.
  • 1929 C: Robert Fitzgerald graduates. Fall term, 497 boys, 62 masters. The Hall is built. Foundation name changed to "The Choate School Chapel and Library Foundation"; it owns the Chapel, Library, Memorial House, Archbold, and the Hall. Hugh Packard begins 50 years as French teacher and wrestling coach.
"What Caruso was to singing, Alan Lomax ['30] is to musicology. He is a key figure in 20th-century culture." -- Studs Terkel[29]
  • 1930 C: Alan Lomax graduates. Mahlon Thatcher Track and Fields built, the gift of Mr. and Mrs. Mahlon Thatcher in memory of their son Mahlon Jr, a fourth former who had died in a riding accident. Fall term, 509 boys, 64 masters. Soccer team begins. First appearance of the band at a football game.
  • 1931 C: 505 boys, 64 masters. Munson House bought. Charles Eglise begins 36 years as superintendent of buildings and grounds. Baseball begins a six-season record of 57-6.
  • 1931 R: 130 girls.
  • 1932 C: January, Joseph P. Kennedy P'35 arranges the first showing of a movie. Winter Exercise Building (now Johnson Athletic Center) is built entirely by Choate staff and cost $275,000, one-third of which was given by Mr. and Mrs. Mahlon Thatcher; the Winter Ex was the final project of building supervisor Henry Raymond Stone, who died in 1931. The Headmaster, an insatiable Savoyard, commands the first of yearly Gilbert and Sullivan productions (The Mikado) that continue to his retirement year 1947 (Patience).
  • 1933 C: 475 boys, 59 masters. Homestead and Red Cottage bought, Homestead from Hunt Atwater '03, nephew of Mary Atwater Choate.
  • 1934 C: 459 boys, 58 masters. Edsall House bought.
  • 1935 C: 466 boys, 57 masters. 1690 House bought.
  • 1935 R: 91 girls.
  • 1936 C: Alan Jay Lerner and Avery Dulles graduate. Fall term, 490 boys, 62 masters. Chapel House and New Old South are bought, the gift of Clinton P. Knight, Jr.
  • 1937 C: 501 boys, 64 masters. Alumni Boathouse built; 400 donors. The Choate School, Incorporated, transfers its property to the Foundation. Combination House is created from the joining of the relocated Brown and Middle cottages.
  • 1937 R: March, Life magazine has four-page photo essay on The Mid, the annual February dance: "fifth and sixth form girls invited 76 boys from such places as Yale, Princeton, Harvard and Exeter."
  • 1938 C: Paul Mellon Science Hall (now Mellon Humanities Center) is built, the gift of Paul Mellon '25. Red House (now Squire Stanley) bought from the Atwater family. "The Golden Blues" swing band begins and will last 30 years.
  • 1938 R: Ruutz-Rees and Lowndes retire as co-headmistresses, but remain active in the school administration. Eugenia Baker Jessup '10, a Bryn Mawr alumna, begins 15 years as headmistress.
  • 1939 C: April, first issue of The Choate Alumni Bulletin is published; Dan D. Coyle '34 is editor.
  • 1940 C: Fathers Association begins.
  • 1941 C: Mothers Association begins. Duncan Phyfe '38 begins 50 years as music teacher, organist, and choirmaster.
  • 1943 C: Alumni Fund council begins. Boston Braves use the Winter Ex for spring training; manager Casey Stengel gave local reporters a Stengelism: "Excellent workouts in that there cage you just saw, which is a honey in all my years to the present time."
  • 1944 C: Fiftieth Anniversary Campaign for endowment begins.
  • 1945 C: The Maiyeros a capella group begun by music master Duncan Phyfe '38. Charles Pierce begins 32 years as history and English teacher and admissions director.
  • 1946 C: Edward Albee graduates; his first published play, Schism, appears in the Commencement issue of The Choate Literary Magazine.[30] Dedication of Wilken Field in memory of Ray Theodore "Ted" Wilken '40. Gordon Stillman begins 25 years as history teacher, assistant headmaster, and New England's winningest tennis coach. September 27-29, celebration of Choate's Fiftieth Anniversary, among the speakers were John F. Kennedy, the presidents of Yale (St. John's brother-in-law), Princeton, and Williams, and the heads of Andover, Deerfield, Groton, St. Paul's, Hotchkiss, Lawrenceville, Taft, Loomis, Westminster, and Milton.
  • 1947 C: 533 boys. Trustees elect Seymour St. John '31 headmaster; he is installed June 11 and begins his 26-year tenure. Richard R. Higgins succeeds George St. John as president of the Foundation. Logan Munroe House is built, the gift of Charles A. Munroe P'33 in memory of his son.
  • 1947 R: November, first issue of The Rosemary Alumnae Newsletter is published.
  • 1948 C: 550 boys. Nichols House is built, the gift of Charles Walter Nichols, Jr. '29, and named in memory of his father, trustee 1947-57.
  • 1948 R: Group that includes Board members and the headmistress acquires an option to buy the school.
  • 1950 C: First Project Day, brought on by a storm that downed trees; now called Community Day.
  • 1950 R: 81 girls. April 18, the school is incorporated as Rosemary Hall Foundation, with Catherine B. Blanke '25 as president and Franklin E. Parker, Jr. as chair. Spring term, the headmistress institutes "Operation X" in which 10 selected sixth formers are exempted from most school rules; the experiment is reported by Newsweek in an article on the school in May.
  • 1951 R: 110 girls.
President Truman and Democratic Presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson '18 in the Oval Office in 1952
  • 1952 C: Adlai Stevenson '18 is the Democratic Presidential nominee, and again in 1956.
  • 1953 C: December 5, dedication of the outdoor Courtenay Hemenway Rink.
  • 1953 R: Fall term, Helen MacKissick Williamson begins four years as headmistress.
  • 1954 C: Benjamin F. Sylvester, Jr. begins 40 years as history teacher and crew coach.
  • 1954 R: 161 girls. Headmistress emeritus Ruutz-Rees dies.
  • 1955 R: December, headmistress Williamson resigns after pressure from conservative block led by gamesmistress Hester Macquire, but 13 of the 14-member faculty support Williamson and the Board retains her.
  • 1957 C: Wheeler House is bought; named for Frank Wheeler, teacher and director of studies 1916-52. Fall term, Johannes van Straalen begins teaching Russian a month before the launch of Sputnik 1. October, dedication of George and Clara St. John Hall; it cost $562,000. Tom Yankus '52 begins a half-century-plus (ongoing) as English teacher, baseball coach, and vice principal for students.
  • 1957 R: June, headmistress Williamson dies aged 53. Summer, Alice McBee of Concord Academy is chosen as headmistress, but her arrival is delayed a year until her Concord contract ends. Eugenia Baker Jessup returns as headmistress during the interim year.
  • 1958 R: Alice McBee, a bachelor alumna of both Sweetbriar and Columbia, begins 13 years as headmistress. Whimawehs a capella group begins.
  • 1959 R: 208 girls.
  • 1960 C: April 17, the History Club is addressed by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ralph Bunche, whose son Ralph Jr. '61 is the school's first African-American student. Pitman, Atwater, and Mead houses are built, the latter named for George Jackson Mead '11, trustee 1947-57. In November, John Kennedy '35 is elected President; in a straw poll only 18 percent of students vote for him.
On May 25, 1961, President John Kennedy '35 tells Congress, "I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon."
  • 1961 C: January 20, Kennedy takes office; his inaugural address "Ask not" phrase is sometimes said to derive from George St. John's "Ask not what your school can do for you; ask what you can do for your school."[31]
  • 1962 C: May 5, dedication of new wing of Library, with Robert Frost reading his Kennedy inaugural poem, "The Gift Outright." Spencer House (originally '62 House) is built; in 1982 it will be renamed in memory of James Spencer, chemistry and physics teacher 1962-82.
  • 1962 R: Ruutz-Rees Auditorium opens, with seating for 300.
  • 1963 C: Michael Douglas graduates. Mrs. Lee Sylvester begins 38 years as school archivist. Quantrell House is built; named in memory of Ernest E. Quantrell P'42, trustee 1942-61.
  • 1963 R: 250 girls. Jessup House dormitory is built.
  • 1964 C: In the summer, Alberto "Tico" Carrero '66 wins the U.S. under-16 tennis championship; his varsity record in three years is 36-0. Fall term, Konthath (Raman) Menon begins 44 years as English teacher. Tom McRae begins 43 years as Spanish teacher.
  • 1965 C: John Dos Passos '11 attends 50th anniversary celebration of The Lit. Fall term, sixth formers in the history class of Jack McCune (future headmaster of St. Alban's) are the guests of Secretary of State Dean Rusk in his office; they challenge him on the Vietnam War. McCook House is completed, named for Anson T. McCook, trustee 1911-62; the dormitory and its twin, Clinton Knight House, were designed by architect Frank Winder '39.
  • 1965 R: Glenn Close graduates.
  • 1966 C: January, headmaster emeritus George St. John dies, aged 88. Spring term, Ralph Metcalfe, Jr., son of the Olympic gold-medalist and Illinois Congressman, is the top high school hammer thrower in the country.[32] Clinton Knight House is completed, named for Clinton P. Knight Jr. '12, trustee 1938-56. Fall term, Paul Mellon '25 offers $1.5 to build a facility for theater, music, and visual arts; his vision would be realized for $5 million in 1972.
  • 1966 R: Spring term, dean of students Elizabeth Loomis and several faculty members resign in protest against headmistress McBee's longtime refusal to admit African-American students; McBee relents and in fall term the first black student enrolls. Fall term, Ann Nesslage begins 42 years as English teacher.
  • 1967 C: Winter term, dedication of Remsen Arena, the gift of the family of William C. S. Remsen '39. Varsity hockey is 17-0. Steele Hall is built, named for George Steele. The Chapel is enlarged by extension to the south. The Hall is enlarged by widening to the south. Baseball, coached by Tom Yankus '52, begins an eight-season league record of 54-2. Afro-American Union is formed.
  • 1967 R: Fall term, headmistress McBee urges the trustees to consider "official affiliation" with a boys school, in light of declining enrollment and financial difficulty. Dedication of Arts and Sciences Building.
  • 1968 C: In January, Duke Ellington Orchestra plays in the Chapel. January 8, headmaster St. John hosts a private meeting in Wallingford with RH Board chair Charles Stetson, and the feasibility of relocating RH is discussed. January 26, Choate trustees vote to allow continuing discussions with RH. June, the CS and RH boards make a formal agreement, with the understanding that RH would relocate. Fall term, Ralph Valentine '62 begins 42 years as teacher. September 24, St. John and McBee hold a press conference in St. John Hall and issue a press release dated September 26 which states that "a brand new school would be built for Rosemary Hall on Choate Land, and the combined institutions would provide 'coordinate' secondary education starting in September 1971."[33]
  • 1968 R: Amidst concern that RH would lose its identity, actress Ali MacGraw '56 offers a major gift toward moving St. Bede's Chapel to Wallingford, but there is insufficient response.
  • 1969 C: Spring term, in response to student unrest St. John appoints English master Malcolm Manson '57 to run "Metanoia," a six-week lecture program that replaces Thursday classes; Margaret Mead and Alvin Toffler are the first two speakers. Fall term, first African-American master, Ralph Todman, is appointed to teach history and start the Afro-American Studies Center. Dress code no longer requires jacket and tie in the classroom. In November St. John allows about 50 students to attend the peace march in Washington, D.C.
  • 1969 R: January, architect James Polshek is selected to design the Wallingford RH campus; his budget will eventually be $6.4 million. On Prize Day, Seymour St. John is the graduation speaker in Greenwich.
  • 1970 C: Spring term, 20 RH sixth formers have an advance guard residence on the CS campus; they live in Nichols House; Meg Colgate '70 is made interim editor of The Choate News. Book by Peter Prescott '53, son of Orville Prescott of the New York Times, examines the political turmoil in the school year 1967-68.[34] Fall term, chapel attendance is no longer compulsory. Zurn Organ is installed in the Chapel, given in memory of John Henry Zurn '43.
  • 1970 R: 258 girls.
  • 1971 C: 568 boys.
  • 1971 R: Elizabeth Winslow Loomis begins two years as headmistress; she had been head of upper school at The Lenox School (now Birch Wathen Lenox School) in Manhattan and a former RH teacher and dean. June 3, the last Prize Day in Greenwich, Seymour St. John is the graduation speaker. The Greenwich campus is bought by Daycroft School, which moves from its own Greenwich campus on Rock Ridge Road. August, the last two Wallingford campus buildings, Bronfman Library and Macquire Gymnasium, are completed. The school and 223 girls relocate. Gwen Heuss-Severance begins 36 years as English teacher.
Paul Mellon '25, philanthropist, art collector, donor of the Yale Center for British Art, the National Gallery of Art East Wing, and several buildings at Choate
  • 1972: May 12-14, dedication of Paul Mellon Arts Center ("PMAC"), the gift entire of Paul Mellon '25; it cost more than $5 million; three-day celebration includes May 12 dedication speech by Edward Albee '46, a production of his Zoo Story, performances by the Boston Pops and Victor Borge, and official May 13 dedication of the RH campus. Fall term, all-school sit-down meals end.
  • 1973: Spring term, RH yearbook The Answer Book is merged into The Brief. July 1, Seymour St. John resigns as headmaster. Wallingford Symphony Orchestra is formed, with the PMAC as its home. Lewis House is bought, named for Robert E. Lewis, teacher 1917-47. Fall term, CS and RH adopt uniform grading system. October 4, Charles F. Dey is installed as first "president and principal of The Choate School and Rosemary Hall." Dey was formerly an associate dean at Dartmouth and had taught history at Andover. He appoints RH academic dean and classics teacher Joanne Sullivan as dean and head of RH, and former St. Paul's School teacher Richard Aiken as dean and head of CS.
  • 1974: Jamie Lee Curtis graduates. June, the two boards of trustees are merged, with Elizabeth Hyde Brownell '21 as chair. RH newspaper The Wild Boar is merged into The Choate News. The students Creative Arts Committee is formed; an arts credit is added to graduation requirements.
  • 1976: February 18, fire damages the north section of the Winter Ex. December 1, rebuilt Winter Ex opens and is named for Worthington Johnson '32, who led fundraising that would secure $4 million in two years. Winter term, squash and riflery become coed sports.
  • 1977: May, first joint Prize Day. Fall term, first joint registration, orientation, and Convocation. CS Student Council and RH Committee unofficially merge. Football, coached by Doug James, begins a five-season record of 32-7-1. Bobette Reed is first African-American admissions officer. Adlai E. Stevenson '18 Lecture Series is inaugurated by Allard Lowenstein.
  • 1978: Alumni Weekend, Larry Hart Pool opens as a coed facility, the gift of Larry Hart '32. May 28, the first joint graduation on Archbold Lawn, with single diploma of "Choate Rosemary Hall." Fall term, football beats Deerfield 9-3 on a 99-yard, two-play drive, and Bob Galvin's "Miracle Catch" with no time left on the clock.
  • 1979: March, John Joseph Activities Center opens in the made-over Gymnasium, the gift of F. Morgan and Barbara Olin Taylor. Headmistress emeritus Eugenia Baker Jessup dies. November 1-4, The Crucible is performed and its author Arthur Miller lectures on McCarthyism.
  • 1980: Spring term, the Last Hurrah begins with the merger of Festivities and The Mid. The cross is removed from the Chapel.
  • 1981: Official merger of the student governments as CRH Student Council. Spring term, Joanne Sullivan heads an ad hoc committee that recommends increased emphasis on lab sciences and computer science, and curriculum mandates that might include economics, psychology, philosophy, religious studies, and the arts.
  • 1982: 76 students of color, more than twice as many as the year before. Faculty approves new curriculum based on 1981 Sullivan committee recommendations. Richardson House is bought; given its present name in 1998 for Elfrida Richardson, RH organist and choirmistress 1916-59. Kathleen Lyons Wallace begins more than 25 years (ongoing) as science teacher, dean, and associate headmaster.
  • 1984: April, U.S. Customs agents at Kennedy Airport in New York, alerted by the school, apprehend a student returning from Venezuela with 340 grams of cocaine bought with schoolmates' money; 14 students are expelled, and the TV program 60 Minutes runs a segment on the incident. Summer, the Connecticut Scholars program begins; its first session brings 52 public school students to campus for a five-week science and math course. Spears Endowment for Spiritual and Moral Education is founded, named for William G. Spears '56, Board chair 1985-90 and head of capital campaign Endowment Plus, which raised $26 million.
  • 1985: Paul Giamatti graduates. Sylvester Boathouse built on Lake Quonnipaug, named for Benjamin F. Sylvester, Jr., longtime crew coach and history teacher. Office of Public-Private Collaboration is formed for community outreach. Centennial Committee is created, with chairs Elizabeth Hyde Brownell '21 and C. Walter Nichols '55.
  • 1986: In the Chapel "The Creation" altar tapestry is hung, the gift of RH class of 1921, woven by Sylvia Heyden.
  • 1987: Squire Stanley is moved 300 feet back from Christian Street to help reveal the west facade of Mellon Science Hall (now Mellon Humanities Center).
  • 1988: January, agreement signed with Russia's Moscow School #18 for an annual four-week exchange of five students and one leader; Russian group arrives in April, Choate group to Moscow in September. Summer, the Connecticut Scholars program, now with 105 students, adds humanities courses to its previously science and math curriculum. Pierce House is named for Charles Pierce, admissions director and teacher 1945-77. Walsh House is named for Donald D. Walsh, teacher 1928-59.
  • 1989: September 10, Centennial Year kicks off with convocation in Johnson Athletic Center; Johannes van Straalen, in his 33rd year as teacher or faculty dean, is marshal and carries the new Centennial Mace. October 18, dedication of Paul Mellon Science Center, the gift of Paul Mellon '25; its 150-seat Getz Auditorium is the gift of George Getz '27. The original Mellon Science Hall is renovated to house the Paul Mellon Humanities Center, also the gift of Mellon. Connie Matthews is hired as the first coordinator of multicultural affairs. First co-ed Deerfield Day, with girls' matches in soccer and field hockey.
  • 1990: May, Centennial Year concludes with Reunion Weekend and Centennial Gala in the PMAC, emceed by Elliott Gould P'89. December 19, Edward Shanahan is introduced at an all-school assembly in the PMAC.
  • 1991: September 8, Shanahan is ceremonially invested as president and headmaster. Endowment draw is reduced to 5.5 percent.
  • 1992: September, inauguration of Matriculation Ceremony, in which "values of Choate" pledge cards are signed.
  • 1993: October, trustees approve long range plan for curriculum change, residential life improvement, and other capital plant renewal.
  • 1994: January, trustees vote to reduce enrollment from 1025 to 825 over a five-year period; faculty and staff reduction through attrition would be less severe.
  • 1995: April 20, at Guggenheim Museun in New York is launched "A Shared Commitment," a capital campaign for $100 million, 85 percent of which would go to endowment; campaign chairs are Christopher Hutchins '56 and Edwin A. Goodman '58; Hutchins's gift of $20 million was, at the time, the largest unrestricted gift ever received by a secondary school; Paul Mellon '25 gave $10 million. October, dedication of Hunt Tennis Center, the gift of Tod Hunt '40. Albert Schweitzer Institute for the Humanities, founded 1973, begins four years residence at Choate; it would bring Nobel laureates Mikhail Gorbachev, Desmond Tutu, and Betty Williams to campus.
  • 1997: Porter House becomes the headmaster's residence; it was named for George F. Porter, teacher and sometime baseball coach 1925-67. Endowment of the Icahn Scholars Program, the gift of Gail and Carl C. Icahn P'97, '00, supported by the Icahn Charitable Foundation and the Foundation for a Greater Opportunity.[35]
  • 1998: Chapel is rededicated and named for headmaster emeritus Seymour St. John.
  • 2001: Paul Mellon Science Center is renamed for Carl C. Icahn P'97, '00, following his $5 million gift. Endowment of the Charles Krause '51 Fellow in Rhetoric, the gift of Krause.
  • 2002: North wing of Johnson Athletic Center is built. Library is renovated, the gift of Christopher Hutchins '56. Curtis House is renovated and becomes Sally Hart Lodge, the school guest house, gift of Larry Hart '32.
  • 2005: Edward Albee '46 receives a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement.
  • 2006: February, at the Winter Olympics in Turin the U.S. women's hockey team has three alumnae, Angela Ruggiero '98, Kim Insalaco '99, and Julie Chu '01. April, representatives of the heretofore informal Eight Schools Association meet at Lawrenceville to discuss a more formal arrangement, including a literary magazine, sports league, and student and faculty conferences; Shanahan of Choate is elected president of the Association (he is succeeded in 2009 by Elizabeth Duffy of Lawrenceville).[36] Walton Family Foundation gives $11.7 million to endow the Gakio-Walton Scholars Program, a memorial to Wilson Gakio, classmate of Benjamin S. Walton '92; the program provides scholarships to students from specific regions of Africa, India, the Middle East and the United States. Remsen Arena is renovated. November, Headmaster emeritus Seymour St. John dies, aged 94. November, a capital campaign called "An Opportunity to Lead" is launched to raise $200 million, with $100 million in gifts and pledges secured during the silent phase from July 2004.
  • 2007: Alumni Association begins CRH Regional Clubs effort, with Henry McNulty '65 as chair; inaugural clubs established in Boston and Washington. May 19, dedication of the Bruce '45 and Lueza Gelb Track, named for its donors. Reunion Weekend, 100th birthday of The News celebrated with events featuring alumni journalists. August, the northeast campus is turned into a Disney film set for College Road Trip, starring Martin Lawrence and Raven-Symone. October, a Royal Bank of Scotland commercial is filmed in the Chapel, with 70 students used as extras. Five houses are renamed following gifts from the Mosbacher and Sophonpanich families: New Old South becomes Mosbacher, Fox becomes Chatri, Backes becomes Jessup, Wheeler becomes Lowndes, and 411 North Main becomes McBee -- the last three named for RH headmistresses who were also the namesakes of the three temporary RH dorms built in 1973. Fall term, Arabic courses are again offered after a 30-year hiatus.
  • 2008: February 11, Republican strategist Karl Rove spends a day on campus; originally invited as commencement speaker, the venue was changed following objections from students, faculty, parents, and alumni.[37] Fall term, South House and Tenney House open; on November 5 the latter is dedicated to Rebecca Tenney Agnew '27, who bequeathed $6 million of the $23-million project. Dedication of Senior Spot bench and patio, the $157,000-gift of the class of 2008, designed by architects Anil Khachane '96 and Mai Wu '87.
  • 2009: May 19, Choate wins Fed Challenge national high school championship. Board chair Herbert V. Kohler, Jr. '57 offers to donate an Environmental Center (estimated cost $10-15 million) to be built on 262 acres of the northeast campus; it would include, in Kohler's description to the Wallingford Town Council, "a LEED certified structure housing a laboratory/teaching space and residential facilities which together we believe will constitute the finest secondary school environmental education facility in the world." Fall term, the Town Council rejects the school's offer of either $260,000 or the deed to the site of its old boathouse in exchange for clos­ing a half-mile section of Old Durham Road in the Environmental Center acreage; planning for the center moves forward regardless, with an opening date of fall 2012.[38] October 17, at St. Bede's Chapel in Greenwich the centennial of the Chapel was celebrated by Rosemarians past and present, with the Whimawehs singing traditional RH songs. Renovation of St. John Hall.
  • 2010: February 2, Edward Shanahan tells an all-school assembly in the PMAC that he will resign as headmaster after the 2010-11 school year; a committee of three teachers and seven trustees will work with search firm Spencer Stewart to find a successor.[39] February, at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver the silver-medal U.S. women's hockey team has three alumnae, Angela Ruggiero '98, Julie Chu '01, and Hilary Knight '07.

Heads of School and Foundation

The dining hall in Hill House west wing
  • Headmistresses of Rosemary Hall: Caroline Ruutz-Rees 1890-1938; Eugenia Baker Jessup '10, 1938-53, 1957-58; Helen MacKissick Williamson 1953-57; Alice McBee 1958-71; Elizabeth Winslow Loomis 1971-73.
  • Headmasters of The Choate School: Mark Pitman 1896-1905; Sumner Blakemore 1906-08; George C. St. John 1908-47; Seymour St. John '31, 1947-73.
  • Headmasters of Choate Rosemary Hall: Charles F. Dey 1973-91 (initially president and principal of The Choate School and Rosemary Hall); Edward J. Shanahan 1991 to present.
  • Presidents of The Choate School Foundation: George C. St. John 1911-47 (The Choate School, Incorporated 1911-37; The Choate School Chapel Foundation 1924-29; The Choate School Chapel and Library Foundation 1929-37; The Choate School Foundation 1937-47); Richard R. Higgins 1947-58; Donald McK. Blodget '13, 1958-61; Craig D. Munson '16, 1961-66; Daniel G. Tenney, Jr. '31, 1967-74.
  • Presidents of Rosemary Hall Foundation: Caroline Ruutz-Rees 1890-1938 (headmistress and owner); Catherine B. Blanke '25, 1950-55; Franklin E. Parker, Jr. 1950-54 (chair); Elizabeth B. MacDonald '21, 1956-60; H. Chandler Turner, Jr. 1960-62; Julian M. Avery 1962-65; Gerrish H. Milliken 1965-74.
  • Chairs of Choate Rosemary Hall Foundation: Elizabeth Hyde Brownell '21, 1974-77; Peter C. Goldmark, Jr. '58, 1977-79; Larry A. Hart '32, 1979-82; Bruce S. Gelb '45, 1982-85; William G. Spears '56, 1985-90; Stephen J. Schulte '56, 1990-95; Edwin A. Goodman '58, 1995-2000; Cary L. Neiman '64, 2000-05; Herbert V. Kohler, Jr. '57, 2005 to present.

Notable alumni

Fictional alumni

Choate occurs frequently in novels, only the best known instance being listed here, as the first item:

  • In Catcher in the Rye the character Al Pike (who shows off at the swimming pool) went to Choate.
  • In the TV show "30 Rock" the character Avery Jessup, host of Hot Box with Avery Jessup, went to Choate (and Yale). Jessup was the name of a former RH headmaster and of a girls' dorm on the Wallingford campus from 1973 until the early 2000's.
  • In the TV show "M*A*S*H" the character Charles Emerson Winchester went to Choate (and Harvard and Harvard Medical School).
  • In the TV show "The West Wing" the character Clifford Calley went to Choate (and Brown and Harvard Law School).
  • In the TV show "Family Guy" (the episode "Road to Rupert") a man is told that, if he wins a bet, the dog Brian will lick peanut butter from "anywhere on your body." The man accepts the bet, saying, "Well, I did go to Choate." (The show's creator, Seth MacFarlane, is an alumnus of rival Connecticut prep school Kent).
  • In the TV show "Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law" one of Harvey's rival lawyers, Evelyn Spyro Throckmorton, went to Choate and Yale Law School.
  • In the TV show "Gilmore Girls" the prep school "Chilton" is based on Choate.
  • In the TV show "Dawson's Creek" (episode 3), Joey pretends to attend "Choate" to seduce a rich guy.


  1. ^ Taylor Smith, "History of the Association," The Phillipian (Phillips Academy), February 14, 2008
  2. ^;
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Choate Rosemary Hall Bulletin, Spring 2008, page 9
  6. ^ George St. John, Forty Years at School (New York, 1959), pp 101-31
  7. ^
  8. ^; William Mercer and Benjamin F. Sylvester, Choate Rosemary Hall: A Portrait of the School (Arlington, Mass., 1993)
  9. ^
  10. ^ H.L. Mencken, The American Language, 4th ed., abridged by Raven McDavid (New York, 1963), p. 522
  11. ^
  12. ^ Ephraim Orcutt Jameson, The Choates in America, 1643-1896 (Ipswich, Mass., 1896); Charles Henry Stanley Davis, History of Walligford, Conn. (Meriden, Conn., 1870)
  13. ^ "A Genteel Nostalgia, Going Out of Business," The New York Times, Feb. 23, 2003, p. 137
  14. ^ Tom Generous, Choate Rosemary Hall: A History of the School (Wallingford, Conn., 1997), p. 3. Much of the matter in this section is taken from Generous.
  15. ^ "Rosemary's 50th," Time, Nov. 4, 1940, p. 137
  16. ^ "Memorial of William Gardner Choate," New York County Lawyers' Association Yearbook 1921 (New York, 1921), pp. 199-200
  17. ^ Obituary Record of the Graduates of Bowdoin College and the Medical School of Maine for the Decade Ending 1 June 1909 (Brunswick, Maine, 1911), pp. 350-1
  18. ^ Generous, op cit, p. 17
  19. ^ St. John, op cit, p. 11
  20. ^ Generous, op cit, p. 66
  21. ^ The Choate News, October 13, 1928, reproduced in Generous, op cit, p. 90
  22. ^ James McLachlan, American Boarding Schools: A Historical Study (New York, 1970), passim; Christopher F. Armstrong, "On the Making of Good Men: Character-Building in the New England Boarding Schools," in The High-Status Track: Studies of Elite Schools and Stratification, ed. P.W. Kingston and L.S. Lewis (Albany, N.Y., 1990), pp. 9-10
  23. ^ "Seymour St. John, 94, Leader of Choate School for 26 Years, Dies," New York Times, April 20, 2006
  24. ^ The name Julius is from Generous, op cit, p. 29; it is Victor in St. John, op cit, p. 297
  25. ^ Much of the detail for Choate 1908-1947 comes from "Chronological Sequence," St. John, op cit, pp. 297-303
  26. ^ Linda Hamalian, The Cramoisy Queen: A Life of Caresse Crosby (Carbondale, Ill., 2005), p. 5
  27. ^ 280 donors is from Generous, op cit, p. 70; 435 donors according to St. John, op cit, p. 299
  28. ^ Biographical Dictionary of North American Classicists, ed. W.W. Briggs, Jr. (Westport, Conn., 1994), pp. 182-3
  29. ^ "Alan Lomax, Who Raised Voice of Folk Music in U.S., Dies at 87," The New York Times, July 20, 2002
  30. ^ Mel Gussow, Edward Albee: A Singular Journey: A Biography (New York, 1999), pp. 60-1
  31. ^ Karlyn Kohrs Campbell and Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Presidents Creating the Presidency: Deeds Done in Words (Chicago, 2008), p. 359
  32. ^ Choate Rosemary Hall Bulletin, Fall 2007, p. 28
  33. ^ Generous, op cit, p. 177
  34. ^ Peter S. Prescott, A World of Our Own: Notes on Life and Learning in a Boys' Preparatory School (New York, 1970)
  35. ^ Choate Rosemary Hall Bulletin, Summer 2007, page 26
  36. ^ The Lawrence (Lawrenceville School), January 19, 2007, p. 1
  37. ^ "Rove Passes Up Commencement Speech at Choate After the Students Object," The New York Times, Jan. 29, 2008
  38. ^ The Record-Journal (Meridan, Conn.), July 21 and October 17, 2009; Herbert V. Kohler, Jr., "To the Members of the Choate Rosemary Hall Community," letter dated February 1, 2010
  39. ^ The News, Feb. 5, 2010

External links

Coordinates: 41°27′28″N 72°48′35″W / 41.45766°N 72.80973°W / 41.45766; -72.80973



Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address