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Mission + History

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1935 Aerial View of the Town of Fryeburg

"Few town academies remain in New England, let alone ones with the unprecedented success and history that Fryeburg Academy proudly boasts. Like the area towns, our school has a proud history that extends from generation to generation and from strength to strength. 

Our History

Fryeburg Academy has maintained a tradition of academic excellence and innovation since 1792 as one of the oldest schools in the United States. It was one of the first schools built in Maine and among the first in the United States to accept women.

Initially, classes were taught in private homes until 1777, when local towns appropriated money to construct a schoolhouse. Citizens wanted to build more schools offering Latin, Greek, and English subjects. In 1791, Fryeburg, Brownfield, and Conway residents agreed to support a new school called Fryeburg Academy, which was incorporated in 1792. The Academy was known as a "fitting school" for Bowdoin College and focused on teacher training. For a short time, it considered becoming a medical school, but that soon gave way to more traditional courses as a college preparatory school. After a devastating fire destroyed the original building, the Academy was rebuilt in 1853 in its current location, where it has stood as a beacon of education for over 250 years.

Today, Fryeburg Academy continues to offer a comprehensive and innovative education for students. Besides a challenging academic curriculum that gives all students ample opportunity for success, the school provides robust athletic, arts, and extracurricular offerings. The Academy continues to be a source of pride among its community and alumni from neighboring towns and countries worldwide. 

Our Mission + Values

Fryeburg Academy serves students, the local and global community, and the future by providing diverse learning opportunities, fostering achievement and inclusivity, and cultivating responsible citizenship.

Our Core Values:   Respect, Diversity, Challenge, Support, Growth,  &  Community

Through the Years...

1792

1792

Originally, the school was taught in private homes until 1777, when money was appropriated to build a schoolhouse. Citizens are interested in building schools that offer  Latin, Greek, and English subjects. In 1791, Fryeburg, Brownfield, and Conway residents agreed to support a new school called Fryeburg Academy. The school was incorporated in 1792.

The first preceptor is Paul Langdon, earning a salary of 52 pounds sterling a year. He lived near Fryeburg Academy at Pine Hill and retired in 1799.

1802

1802

After Langdon’s retirement, Daniel Weston and John P. Thurston served as interim preceptors in the year 1800, followed by Reverend William Fessenden from 1800 to 1801.  Daniel Webster, a recent graduate of Dartmouth College, assumes charge in January of 1802. Webster supplements his income by copying deeds at the Registrar's Office. When he completes the school year, the Trustees present Webster with an honorarium of five dollars.

1806

1806

In 1806, a larger, two-story building on Fessenden Hill near the center of town was constructed with a bell that hung in the belfry; it was the first bell to sound over the Pequawket region—this year also established female education at the Academy—one of the first schools in the United States to accept women.  Isabella Child, the Academy’s first preceptress, is hired this year to instruct girls in needlework, embroidery, painting, reading, writing, and English grammar.

1833

1833

Following Reverend Amos Jones Cook, who served as preceptor from 1803 to 1833, Bowdoin graduate Henry B. Osgood and Dartmouth graduate Amos Brown headed two separate schools within the Academy due to differing religious and political affiliations. Brown moved his school to a hall in town, and later to what is now the town library until peace is restored and the school reunites.

1851

1851

On May 28, 1851, the Academy was destroyed by the Brownfield fire. The interim school occupied the old meeting house in town until a brick building in its current location was rebuilt by Amos Cutter in September of 1853 for $10,000. The building was designed by Boston architect Gridley J.F. Bryant and named Webster Hall after Daniel Webster, who served as the headmaster from 1802 to 1803.

1861

1861

The Civil War disrupts the Academy and it closes from the fall of 1861 to the spring of 1862.

1879

1879

Dartmouth graduate George Ricker, a teacher of broad experience, implements the first formal graduation exercises. Bowdoin graduates continue to head the Academy through the 19th century.

1922

1922

In 1922, Elroy O. LaCasce became principal, and the school flourished under his progressive ideas. LaCasce develops practical courses, and under his leadership, graduating classes grow larger every year until the capacity of the building is taxed. In 1924, the Gibson Gymnasium was built through the efforts of Harvey Dow Gibson. 

1929

1929

Curtis and Cutter Hall are built adjacent to the main building. Mr. and Mrs. Cyrus H.K. Curtis dedicate this expansion to include industrial arts, home economics, and the library.

1937

1937

In 1937, the Academy’s enrollment reached over two hundred pupils per term with three halls of instruction: Gordon Hall, the Manual Training School, and the Harvey Dow Gibson Gymnasium. 

Football, a long-forgotten sport, is revived, and college preparatory, vocational, and agriculture courses are offered.  Agriculture courses have practical value for students who work on their dairy farms, and the Academy’s farm maintains a dairy herd of thirty-eight cows.

1949

1949

In 1949, the Academy trustees voted to accept its first black student, Louise Davis from Virginia, making Fryeburg Academy one of four East schools to accept black students. Louise is fully embraced by the Fryeburg community and selected as the Winter Carnival queen the same year.

1955

1955

LaCasce, the beloved principal of the Academy, retires in 1955 after thirty-three years of service.  He and his wife Marion remain in town, residing at the Tinker House and establishing the “LaCasce scholarships” that assist many Academy students in attending college.

1958

1958

Philip W. Richards serves as headmaster from 1958 to 1975. During this period, the current Frye Hall, Webster Hall, and Payson-Mulford Hall are built to serve the growing number of boarding students. The Academy also wins State Championships in football, boys’ basketball, and skiing.

1974

1974

Ronald W. Hill serves as headmaster from 1974 to 1979. The gas crisis and the global economic recession of the late ’70s proved financially challenging times for all Maine boarding schools— the Academy is no exception. Webster Hall is closed for two years as the Academy searches for ways to expand its boarding population.

1979

1979

Harry True, a long-time teacher, coach, and athletic director, returns from Maine Central Institute to head the school until 1990. The boarding population grows with more international students, including a large contingent from Bermuda. 

1988

1988

In August of 1988, the trustees vote to appoint the first female trustees to the board, Helen Greenwood and Laura McDill.

1990

1990

Barry R. Acker serves as headmaster from 1990 to 1993. Under Acker’s leadership, the Extended Teacher Education Program (ETEP) was instituted, allowing student teachers to earn their master’s degree in teaching while living and teaching at Fryeburg Academy. In 1991, the Pequawket Valley Alternative School was founded and led by David Sturdevant and Dee Dee Frost.

1993

1993

Daniel G. Lee, Jr. serves as headmaster from 1993 to 2013, overseeing transformative growth in the Academy’s campus and boarding population. In 1994, the trustees voted to build a new science building, and the Harry K. Eastman science building was completed in 1996.

2001

2001

Capital improvement plans for a new library began, and in 2002, Bion Cram  ‘33 offered a  $500,000 matching challenge for the new library. The Bion R. Cram Library opens in August of 2004.

2005

2005 

FA’s Capital Campaign—The Phoenix Project— launches to rebuild the Gibson Gymnasium destroyed in a fire. FA’s Alumni Association pledges $150,000 towards rebuilding the gym, and the Class of 1956 raised over $140,000 in 2006 towards the Phoenix Project.

2007

2007

Fryeburg Fair Trustees present the Academy with a $300,000 donation toward the new fieldhouse and a performing arts complex. The Ada Cram Wadsworth Arena is completed.

2009

2009

The construction of the Leura Hill Eastman Performing Arts Center is completed.

2010

2010

Bion R. Cram ‘33 and John H. McCoy bequest $15 million to Fryeburg Academy, the largest gift on record.

2013

2013

Erin P. Mayo joins Fryeburg Academy as the first female head of school in the Academy’s history. 

2020

2020

The construction of Shaffner Hall was completed through the FA's Capital Campaign named "Students in the Center," which raised nearly $5 million for its construction. The new facility features a renovated LaCasce Dining Room, the T. Scott Gamwell Student Union, and the Theodore P. Blaich Post-Secondary Counseling Center.

2022

2022

The FA Scores Campaign builds the John H. Atwood Stadium and Clarence E. Mulford Field. The construction project involves resurfacing the track, installing a synthetic turf field with exterior night lighting, expanding the grandstand for spectators, and installing a new scoreboard. 

2023

2023

Joseph R. Manning assumes the role of Fryeburg Academy’s 55th Head of School in July after a successful 20-year service to the school in multiple roles.