CHOATE ROSEMARY HALL
Building a Community “We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us.” - WINSTON CHURCHILL
This year’s milestone offers an opportunity for our community to reflect upon the extraordinary achievements and impact of our ‘school upon the hillside’ during its first 125 years. From the experimental and unconventional educational ideas of its earliest founders to its present day position as a global leader in secondary school education, The Choate School, Rosemary Hall and now Choate Rosemary Hall have proven to be a place conducive to bold risk-taking and innovation, as well as character formation and academic endeavor. Our campuses, here in Wallingford and in Greenwich, have been home to exceptional students, faculty, and staff over the last 125 years and our buildings are just as much a defining element of the Choate Rosemary Hall legacy as those who have passed through them. As we examine the history of these structures, we also celebrate the lives they have helped shape.
► Memorial House was completed in 1921 and dedicated to the memory of the fifteen Choate boys who had fallen in World War I. Designed as a mirror image of Hill House, it was built to house the Lower School of first and second form boys.
Atwater House (shown c. 1890) located on the NW corner of Christian and N. Elm Streets, was the birthplace of Rosemary Hall. The original structure was demolished in 1960 to make way for the present Atwater and Mead dormitories.
Mary Atwater Choate envisioned a school where girls could develop their young minds and budding talents. From that dream emerged the establishment of Rosemary Hall, a country school for girls, on the family property known as Rosemary Farm in Wallingford, Connecticut where Mrs. Choate and her husband, Judge William Gardner Choate, spent their summers. In 1890, this school became reality when British-born Caroline Ruutz-Rees was hired to be the School’s first headmistress. A home school for boys was soon to follow when in 1896, Judge Choate hired New Haven teacher Mark Pitman to lead The Choate School. For four years, these two distinct schools shared a common campus in Wallingford. In 1900, Miss Ruutz-Rees made the decision to relocate Rosemary Hall to Greenwich, physically separating the schools until their reconnection in the 1970s.
Judge William Gardner Choate & Mrs. Mary Atwater Choate founders of The Choate School and Rosemary Hall.
Choate House (built 1897) was the first structure built expressly for The Choate School. JFK lived there as a 3rd former. It was razed in 1967 to make way for Steele Hall.
Christian Street (c. 1911) shows Squire Stanley on the left and Choate House (now Steele Hall) on the right. A sole tree acts as median for the dirt road which divided campus even then. The entire Choate School and faculty in front of Atwater House, 1906
◄ Headmaster George St. John In 1908, Harvard–educated English teacher George St. John became the headmaster of The Choate School, a position he would hold for the next 40 years. By the end of his remarkable tenure, the campus had grown to nearly 1,000 acres and was distinguished by grand vistas as well as well-planned redbrick buildings that are still in use today.
Rosemary Hall graduation ceremony in front of Atwater House, 1897
Squire Stanley (shown c. 1898) was the birthplace of The Choate School and originally stood much closer to Christian Street. It was moved 300 feet back to its present location in 1987. ▼
The Choate School Campus (1922) shows how the north, south, and east quadrants of the campus are marked by striking Georgian Revival buildings, each designed by Francis Waterman. In the next 20 years, more would follow. ► Life on Campus A distinguished faculty oversaw not only the teaching of the boys, but athletic pursuits like this baseball team in 1905 and nature outings like this excursion to Spruce Glen in 1899. ◄ The First Gym (1901–16) stood where Memorial House is today and was home to the first fledgling athletic teams at Choate. A devastating fire in 1916 destroyed the wooden structure. The cabin next to the gym was later moved to Elm St. for faculty housing.
Hill House Construction Crew (1911) Many early buildings on campus were built by Choate men, including Hill House. ▲
Hill House was completed in 1911. It was the first substantial institutional building completed for the School under George St. John and its Georgian Revival style set the tone for the future development of the Choate campus.
VISION & LEADERSHIP ▲
Homestead Homestead was the Choate’s summer home for many years and provided a rural retreat from New York City. In this historic postcard image from 1912 it is referred to appropriately as “Rosemary Farm.” Much of the original structure remains intact and it has served as a dormitory since 1936.
► Archbold Infirmary was opened in 1929. It was designed by Ralph Adams Cram, architect of the chapel, and was a full-sized hospital with round the clock staff. A significant school building was now in each quadrant of the campus. Students waiting for medical attention could be found in the Solarium (part of the present Admissions Office) or lounging in the fresh air on the East Terrace.
◄ Curtis House (c. 1910) became the home for heads of school starting in 1906, a tradition that lasted ninety years. Today Curtis House, or “The Lodge”, as it was known during the St. John years, is the Sally Hart Lodge & Alumni Center.
Hill House Dining Hall, added onto the original building in 1913–14, is the ‘senior’ section today. In addition to dining space, it was used much as it is today for special occasions like this formal dance, known as Festivities, in 1918. ▼
New Gymnasium (1917) was remarkably completed just a year after the fire that destroyed the old one. It was designed by the same architect as Hill House in brick and stood across the road (today it is the Student Activities Center). It was used for athletics as well as theatre. Its premiere performance of “The Critic” in 1917 featured a young Adlai Stevenson ’18 (on left). ▼
Hill House Common Room (c. 1920) shows the fireplace that still exists, but the open vista through to the Dining Hall has been partitioned off. ▼
In 1900, Headmistress Caroline Ruutz-Rees, with the help of wealthy patrons, relocated Rosemary Hall to Greenwich, Connecticut. Independent from oversight by Mrs. Choate, Ruutz-Rees could continue to build a school based on principles of rigorous academic achievement, competitive athletics, and student self-government. In the late 1960s, coeducation was becoming more popular at both the private collegiate and secondary school levels. The Choate School and Rosemary Hall, recognizing this trend as well as their common roots, agreed to come together in a program of coordinate education. Rosemary Hall moved back to Wallingford to a new campus in 1971.
The Fire The Main Building was destroyed by a devastating fire on November 11, 1923. Despite this unprecedented disaster, Rosemary Hall quickly rebuilt and rebounded.
Main Building (c. 1908) housed all functions of the school. To the left, St. Bede’s Chapel is seen under construction.
Chapel Courtyard (1964) Classrooms are to the right. ▼
Infirmary (1950) ▼
The School’s increasing growth and success mandated changes to its campus that would reflect its changing ambitions, and this period witnessed an expansive building campaign that would in large part shape the campus that we know today – a campus dotted with Georgian Revival buildings, long vistas, and extensive playing fields.
Jessup House (1963) New dormitory built in 1963 included a new infirmary.
Rosemary Tree (c. 1964) Planted by Caroline Ruutz-Rees in 1900, the magnificent beech survived until 1998. A cross-section was preserved and is now a table in the Science Center lounge.
Prize Day (1966) Graduation ceremonies concluded with Sixth Formers weaving daisy chains around the Rosemary Tree while singing school songs.
Rosemary Girl Weathervane was installed on the cupola of the Main Building to honor families who helped the girls after the 1923 fire.
View of the “Pink Building” (1950)
► Campus View (1955)
Caroline Ruutz-Rees (c. 1915) Headmistress of Rosemary Hall, 1890–1938
ROSEMARY HALL IN GREENWICH
Kindly Club Cottage (1936) Caroline Ruutz-Rees’ mother founded the Kindly Club, devoted to community service, in 1912. She also began the tradition of the Garden Party.
Gymnasium (c. 1953)
► Library (c. 1959) The portrait of co-headmistresses Caroline Ruutz-Rees and Mary Elizabeth Lowndes is now in the Humanities Rotunda.
► Classroom (1951) Steele Hall has foreign language wall inscriptions in its foyer, echoing a Rosemary Hall tradition.
◄ Dining Hall (1964) Many elements from the Dining Hall are now on view in the Humanities Rotunda.
Paul Mellon Science Hall The Paul Mellon Science Hall opened in 1938, in many ways completing the rapid campus expansion of the prior decades. Headmaster George St. John is seen at the dedication, standing with the architect, Charles Fuller (left).
◄ Legendary faculty member, John Ed Wilfong, teaches biology class.
Andrew Mellon Library (completed 1926) was offered to the School by Andrew Mellon shortly after his son Paul Mellon graduated in the Class of 1925. In addition to the expansive main floor library and reading room, the structure offered classrooms, office space for The Brief and The News, a dormitory on the third floor, and the faculty room in the basement. ▲
► Mahlon Thatcher Track Winter Ex
Rosemary Farm was a dairy farm that operated from 1924–1957 on the campus. In addition to providing milk for the school, it offered wholesome work opportunities for the boys as part of their community service. It stood where today we find the Paul Mellon Arts Center. ► St. George’s Inn (1920) located on Main Street where Wells Fargo Bank is today, was operated until 1958 by the school to accommodate parents and visitors, setting a precedent for today’s Sally Hart Lodge & Alumni Center.
Baseball has long been played on the grass field in front of the Winter Ex, but in the winter months the original dirt floor in the Ex allowed for an internal game from time to time.
Global education was a particular focus for Seymour St. John, seen here in discussion with students in the library of the Lodge. ▼
Dining Hall A Dining Hall Extension (Hall) was commemorated shortly after completion on a calendar page from December 1929, bearing the motto ‘Fidelitas et Integritas’ which was adopted by the school again in 1997.
Campus map (1939–40) summarizes the astounding building expansion since Hill House as well as how the existing buildings were moved to create better vistas.
GRIT & DETERMINATION
◄ Main Building (c. 1920) Amphitheater (c. 1934) The site of the annual Shakespeare play, a tradition dating back to the 1890s.
◄ The Chapel was designed by Ralph Adams Cram and completed in 1925, providing a spiritual center on campus.
Lifetime benefactors would emerge and underwrite the construction of many of these iconic buildings. Secretary of Treasury Andrew Mellon, father of Paul Mellon ’25, donates the Library, Anne Saunderson Archbold, mother of John D. Archbold ’29, donates the Archbold Infirmary, and financier and philanthropist Paul Mellon ’25 donates the Science Hall.
▼ Aerial View of the 25 acre campus (c. 1969)
► St. Bede’s Chapel (completed in 1909) Rosemarians conducted daily chapel services in their uniforms, including tams. Names of former graduates are painted in gold in the rafters. The chapel’s stained glass windows, imported from London, are world class.
Memorial House (c. 1960s) Study Hall off the common room
◄ John F. Kennedy Election (1960) Inauguration of John F. Kennedy ’35 is heralded on the front page of The Choate News, as well as his appointments of other alumni, Adlai Stevenson ’18 and Chester Bowles ’19, to his administration.
◄ Daniel Dodge Shops Learning practical skills was also emphasized for the Choate boys. The Daniel Dodge Shops, originally located in a building next to the farm, housed all manner of machinery during these decades. When the PMAC was built, the shops moved to a building on Elm St. where the ceramics studio is today.
Alumni Boathouse (1936) Athletic facilities were also part of this campus expansion, with the dedication of the Winter Ex (1931), the Mahlon Thatcher Track (1932), and the Alumni Boathouse (1936) on Community Lake.
Leisure Time Students enjoy a game of pool or being read to by Clara St. John.
A new Lecture Hall offered seating for 100 students.
The 1962 library wing dedication ceremony included (left to right) Headmaster Seymour St. John ’31, Headmaster Emeritus George St. John, guest speaker Robert Frost, and donor Paul Mellon ’25. ▼
It’s a prosperous time for the School – and the country. National and international affairs come into focus on campus with the presidential candidacies of Adlai Stevenson ’18 in 1952 and 1956, and the election of John F. Kennedy ’35 in 1960. In 1962, Poet Laureate Robert Frost visits the campus to participate in the dedication of a new wing of the Andrew Mellon Library, a gift of Paul Mellon ’25.
GROWTH & PROSPERITY
Simultaneously, the largest single-building construction in school history gets underway – The Paul Mellon Arts Center. Designed by I.M. Pei, this new building symbolizes the “gateway” between The Choate School and Rosemary Hall campuses.
The George and Clara St. John Hall is dedicated in 1958, the first major academic building added to campus since the Science Hall two decades earlier.
This period sees the passing of the baton of leadership from Headmaster George St. John to his middle son, Seymour St. John ’31 in 1947. It also witnesses an ever-expanding curriculum. Courses in public affairs and psychology were offered in the late 1940s. In the 1960s, computer programming was added as well as instruction in Russian, Arabic, and Chinese.
◄ New Dormitories (1960–65) New dormitories changed the campus landscape again in the 1960s with the erection first of Atwater and Mead in 1960, then of Spencer and Quantrell in 1962 (left), and finally McCook and Clinton Knight in 1965 (below).
Mellon Library Wing (1962) 1962 Wing of Andrew Mellon Library provided much-needed new space for exhibit and audiovisual rooms as well as bookstacks. It was donated by Paul Mellon ’25.
► Logan Munroe under construction in 1946, marked the beginning of the postwar boom in dormitory construction. It joined Memorial House on Mem Circle.
George and Seymour St. John father and son, share a moment on campus. (1947) Nichols Dormitory (1948) was the next dormitory to go up on Mem Circle.
► Hemenway Hockey Rink (1963) The School’s athletic program also expanded in this period. Ice Hockey got a boost with the construction of the Hemenway Hockey Rink in 1953. Its ice pipes meant the team no longer had to hope that the fields deliberately flooded by Gunpowder Creek would freeze enough for the season.
Today wall inscriptions in many languages welcome students to Steele Hall, home of the language department. ▼
With more faculty families replacing retiring bachelor teachers, there was an increasing need for proper faculty housing during these decades. To accommodate the changing need, a number of new dormitories were planned as well as additions to existing housing.
Remsen Arena (1966) In 1966 Remsen Arena brought a cover to the Hemenway ice – offering welcome protection from winter weather. The 1966 Hockey Team was undefeated through seventeen games that first winter in Remsen and was among the finest ever at Choate. The girls’ hockey program has had its own successes on the ice, seeing alums on the last five US Olympic teams. In 2014 in Sochi they won the silver medal.
After a 70-year hiatus, Rosemary Hall returns to Wallingford as the two schools agree to affiliate. Architect James S. Polshek is selected to design the new Rosemary Hall campus which will contrast sharply with the intimate Italianate style of the Greenwich campus as well as the Georgian Revival buildings of Choate.
◄ Steele Hall (1967) The deteriorating Choate House was torn down to make way for a new administration and admissions building, Steele Hall. Interior view of Steele Hall in the 1960s. ▼
In 1973, a new head of the two schools is named and Charles F. Dey becomes President and Principal of The Choate School and Rosemary Hall. The Trustees set a 10-year target for coeducation, a goal which Charley Dey ambitiously achieves in just 5 years with the first joint graduation taking place on Archbold Lawn on May 28, 1978. Under Dey’s leadership, the campus would see further expansion with the commission of a second I.M. Pei building, a new Science Center, which was dedicated in October, 1989. Student athletics and extracurricular activities would also get new facilities with a new aquatic facility and activity center.
ACCESS & INCLUSION
◄ Efforts to strengthen curriculum reflected President and Principal Charley Dey’s driving goal of academic excellence. His focus on renovating the existing Paul Mellon Science Hall led ultimately to alumnus Paul Mellon contributing once again to fund singlehandedly a new Science Center. I.M. Pei was called in to design the building for a site adjacent to the PMAC, a building he designed seventeen years earlier. The new facility was opened in 1989.
The Winter Ex Fire in February 1976 was both a tragedy and a blessing. It destroyed the athletic facility which had served Choate for more than four decades, but it presented an opportunity to rebuild a complex that would accommodate both male and female athletes. The new and improved Winter Ex building, renamed the Worthington Johnson Athletic Center, was reopened by the end of that year. ▲
Paul Mellon Arts Center (PMAC) was completed in 1972 through the generosity of its single benefactor. It offered a theatre/auditorium, an art gallery, four levels of art studios and music rooms, a recital hall, and underground experimental theatre. It was also conceived architecturally as a symbolic link between the two campuses.
Architect and donor – I.M. Pei and Paul Mellon – in the building under construction.
Canterbury Tales was the first stage production in May 1972 – beginning the tradition of a spring musical that continues today.
Studio arts, then and now.
◄ Rosemary Hall dormitories were accessed via the Barber Bridge. By 2003, these buildings were taken down to make way for faculty housing.
Rosemary Hall campus as envisioned in the architect’s model shows the bridge which would connect its academic and residential hubs, as well as its relationship to the PMAC and Archbold. ► Perched on a hillside, the academic buildings had several levels connected by stairways. Today these buildings house administrative offices.
◄ The Old Gym which had long served as a theatre and athletic space got a redesign in 1979 to serve as the Student Activities Center and the new home of the Tuck Shop.
Cast of the 2014 Spring Musical Pippin.
Rosemary Hall Dining Hall (1971) ▼
► Science Center plan shows its orientation around a circular core with a wall of glass to bring light into the center of the building.
In his two decades as Headmaster of Choate Rosemary Hall Edward J. Shanahan (1991–2011) shaped the curriculum and campus for the 21st century by introducing signature programs such as the Science Research Program and Arts Concentration. Among the many campus improvements under his tenure was the planning for the state-of-the art teaching, research, and residential Kohler Environmental Center. The LEED-Platinum facility, designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects, is home to the Environmental Immersion Program, a year-long honors and interdisciplinary academic experience.
When side-by-side Tenney House and Bernhard House opened in 2008, they were the first new dormitories built since 1965. ▼
No longer the residence for the head of school, the Curtis House undergoes a complete conversion to the Sally Hart Lodge & Alumni Center in 2002.
Dr. Alex D. Curtis was invested as Headmaster of Choate Rosemary Hall on September 21, 2011. Within a year, he introduced a 1:1 iPad program for the School and has since championed the construction of the Cameron and Edward Lanphier Center for Mathematics and Computer Science. Designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, the 35,000-squarefoot facility is proposed to achieve a LEED-Gold certification and will open in March 2015. The new building will be home to Choate’s first purpose-built i.d.Lab© which will serve as a catalyst for our curriculum, fostering collaboration and creativity with spaces for students to innovate, imagine, design, and dream. Today’s school leadership is dedicated to providing transformative student experiences and shaping young lives. Our future is bright with promise.
Choate Rosemary Hall celebrates 125 years in 2015. The anniversary year will be marked by the dedication of a spectacular new academic building, one that embraces the School’s deep and abiding commitment to integrating innovation with its traditional strengths.
The new Science Center allowed for the transformation of the old building into the Humanities Building. Charley Dey (at podium with Seymour St John in the background) presided over the ceremony in 1990. Trustee Chair Stephen Schulte ’56, and Roger Stevens ’28 happily cut the ribbon. ►
◄ The Cameron and Edward Lanphier Center for Mathematics and Computer Science will be dedicated on March 27, 2015. Designed to connect physically with the Science Center via footbridge, the Lanphier Center completes an academic complex that brings science, math, computer science and the arts into close proximity for shared teaching and learning opportunities.
KEC Groundbreaking (2011) Headmaster Edward J. Shanahan (far left) and then Board Chairman, Herbert V. Kohler, Jr. ’57 (far right) flank students and faculty at the groundbreaking for the new building.
Edward A. Fox ’54 Pavilion addition to the Winter Ex in 2002 brought space for a fitness center and a dance studio.
A one-acre, 296-kilowatt groundmounted photovoltaic (solar) array provides 100% of the KEC’s annual energy demand. The rooftop solar evacuated tubes collect energy from the sun to heat enough water to meet most of the KEC needs.
◄ Refurbishment of the Andrew Mellon Library in 2002 included updated technology for students.
Headmaster Alex Curtis (left) and Fred Clarke of Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects (right) discuss building details as Trustee Robert B. Goergen, Jr. ’89 looks on.
◄ The Bruce ’45 and Lueza Gelb Track was completed in 2007 bringing a top of the line facility to the track program and enabling the track teams to once again host meets at home.
INNOVATION & IMAGINATION
The Larry Hart Pool brought a new sport to campus when it opened in 1979.
Kohler Environmental Center (KEC) was opened to students for the academic year 2012–13. Surrounded by 268 acres of mixed forest, wetlands, meadows, and agricultural fields, its location offers a natural classroom that is used daily by the students in the environmental immersion program.
Shanahan Field was dedicated in 2010 in honor of retiring Headmaster Edward J. Shanahan. The artificial turf field expanded our field options and lighting allowed for night-time sporting events.
► View from the upper level shows the Lanphier Center’s relationship to the PMAC and Science Center.
◄ Lanphier Center construction got underway in late Fall 2013 and crews made good headway despite the snowy winter.
As Spring 2014 arrived, windows went in and the white brick exterior was applied.
By Fall 2014 the landscaping was taking shape and the exterior nearing completion.
Published on Jan 19, 2015