History of Barre, Vermont Schools

Early on, Barre had two flourishing schools — the Academy and Seminary. The residents of Barre, Vermont, seeing a need in opening a public school did so in 1887 calling it the Spaulding Graded School, and placed it on the same grounds as the then defunct Academy.

History of Barre Academy

Barre Academy
Barre Academy, Barre, Vermont

Barre Academy was chartered by the Legislature in 1849. Of the first board of trustees, chosen by the corporators, Hon. Newell Kinsman was president, and Hon. Leonard Keith, secretary. In 1853, the board was increased to 25 members, who have full oversight and administration of the affairs of the school. The present officers of the board are: President, Hon. Hiram Carleton, of Montpelier; Secretary, Chas. A. Smith; Barre Prudential Committee, E. W. Bisbee, Esq., H. O. Worthen, M. D., Hon. R. E. Patterson. The academy building was erected in 1852. The school opened in that autumn, with J. S. Spaulding, A. M., principal, who came from Bakersfield, Vermont, where, as Prof. Benedict, of Burlington, wrote for the Free Press at that time, he had “acquired a high reputation by his superior management of Bakersfield Academy.” Mr. Spaulding continued at the head of Barre Academy until his death, which occurred suddenly of heart disease, Apr. 29, 1880, and during all this time he maintained his reputation as one of the ablest and most successful teachers of the State, and by his persistent and self-denying labors made the Academy one which, for excellent discipline and thorough practical training, was unsurpassed by any school in the country. Mr. Spaulding‘s influence was also felt among all the teachers of the State. He was one of the founders, and for many years the president, of the Vermont State Teachers’ Association. He was keenly alive to all the material interests of the community in which he resided, by his instruction of the young men, by his conversations with the fathers, and by the enthusiastic labors and the practical experiments by which he converted the little farm on which he lived and died from a barren hillside pasture to a fertile field, and pleasant grounds, with quiet and cooling shades, he did much to awaken among the farmers of town a higher idea of their calling, and to stimulate a taste for scientific farming in its truest sense. He was chosen a delegate to the constitutional convention in 1870; in 1876, elected a representative to the legislature. The degree of L. L. D. was conferred upon him by Middlebury College in 1868. Dr. Spaulding was born in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, and while a child, removed with his parents to Temple, New Hampshire, where he lived until he entered Dartmouth College in 1837 graduating in 1841. He was soon after married to Miss Mary W. Taylor, who in his labors was a most interested and efficient co-worker, and who now survives him. They had no children.

The school has since the death of Dr. Spaulding been under the charge of A. N. Wheelock, A. M., a graduate of the institution, class ’73, and of the U. V. M., class ’78, and under his able management, promises to maintain its high reputation among the educational institutions of the State. There have been connected with the school as assistant principals since its establishment 24 gentlemen: Rev. Simeon Gilbert, editor of the Advance, Chicago, Ill.; Rev. A. W. Hazen, of Middletown, Ct.; I. W. Camp, A. M., Chicago, III.; Hon. John M. Thatcher, ex-Commissioner of Patents, Chicago, Ill.; Hon. Senaca Hasleton, Judge of Municipal Court, Burlington, Vt., and others; and about 30 ladies, some of whom have been well known teachers in other schools of the land, have been employed as assistants. The number of scholars of both sexes who have completed the courses of studies prescribed has been nearly 300, and the honorable record made by some of these, and of the thousands more who have been for a longer or a shorter period connected with the school, afford the surest testimony of the faithful work done by its teachers in the past. Names of a few old students who have become prominent in the localities in which they have settled, and in the calling they have chosen:

  • Walworth Z. Mitchell, Esq., Superintendent of Schools, Memphis, Tenn.
  • Hon. John I. Gilbert, Malone, N. Y.
  • Hon. John M. Thatcher, Chicago, Ill.
  • Percis A. Thompson, teacher, Goddard Seminary, Barre, Vt.
  • Rev. Geo. P. Beard, Principal S. N. School, Shippenburgh, Pa.
  • Miss Emily Cook, teacher, Chicago, Ill.
  • Hon. Geo. L. Godfrey, Des Moines, Iowa
  • Hon. Albert Clark, St. Albans, Vt.
  • Rev. J. J. Lewis, So. Boston, Mass
  • Hon. M. B. Carpenter, Denver, Colorado
  • Hon. Senaca Hasleton, Burlington, Vt.

The Academy has always been under the control of those who are Congregationalists; still there has never been any discrimination with respect to the advantages of the school, and there is nothing in the rules or the discipline of the school which distinguishes between scholars of this and any other religious belief. The corriculum of studies covers a course of 4 years, and is admirably adapted to fit students for any New England college, or for the active pursuit of a business or professional life. The attendance for the school year, ending June 16, 1881, aggregated 175. The graduating class numbered 9 – 5 gentlemen and 4 ladies.

Enrollment in the Academy was mainly from Barre and surrounding towns, though students came from as far afield as Guadalupe, Texas, Nova Scotia, Canada, and Calcutta, India. One of its most notable graduates was Judge Wendell P. Stafford (class of 1878), U.S. District Court, Washington, D.C.

After the closing of the Barre Academy, the land and buildings were deeded to School District No. 8, which chose to use it as the site of the new publicly funded secondary school, Spaulding Graded School. After construction of the new school, the old Academy building was sold to George Lamson, moved to North Barre and used to build a Wells-Lamson granite shed. It was later destroyed in a fire. You can read more about the history of the site after the Barre Academy was removed here.

Additional Sources for research about the Barre Academy:

  • The Vermont Historical Society has material on the Barre Academy in its collection.
    The collection documents the formation of the Barre Academy, as well as many of its activities. Of special interest are the documents and transcribed records relating to the Academy found in a time capsule buried in the cornerstone of Spaulding Graded School in 1933. Also of interest are the minutes of the Social Fraternity, a literary and debating society. As well, the collection contains photographs, albums, programs, and a complete set of catalogs.
  • Ben Collins (1928-1982) Papers, 1971-1979
    The collection consists of research notes, publications, and correspondence amassed by Ben. Collins while at Goddard College. The material focuses on the labor history of the Granite industry and the Italian Colony of Barre, Vermont. Of particular interest is his correspondence with Peter Pironi, former bookkeeper at the Union Cooperative Store in the Socialist Labor Party Building in Barre. These documents can be found at the Vermont Historical Society.
  • See also: Jacob S. Spaulding and the Barre Academy, by John W. Noble
  • 1867 Diary Referencing Barre Academy
  • The academy: demands for it, and the conditions of its success. An address delivered before the associate alumni of Barre academy, at their reunion, Barre, Vermont, 1877.
  • Annual catalogue of Barre Academy, Barre, Vermont for the year ending 1872-73

Goddard Seminary

Goddard Seminary eventually became known as Goddard College in 1935. This is a photograph of the main hall. It was torn down in 1939 to make room for the Barre Auditorium.
Goddard Seminary eventually became known as Goddard College in 1935. This is a photograph of the main hall. It was torn down in 1939 to make room for the Barre Auditorium.

At the annual session of the Vt. State Convention of Universalists in Montpelier, 1863, a committee was appointed to obtain a charter for a state denominational school of the highest grade below that of college, and the charter was obtained of the Legislature the same fall, under title of Green Mountain Central Institute; name changed Nov. 1870, to Goddard Seminary.

The charter has the right to hold personal and real estate to the amount of $100,000. The charter obtained, Prof. Shipman, now of Tufts College, took the field to raise money till Sept. 1864; raised $15,000; increased afterwards by Rev. J. J. Lewis, Rev. S. W. Squire and others, to about $50,000, and $ 10,000 was given by the late Thomas A. Goddard, of Boston. Fall of 1864, location was referred to committee: Rev. A. A. Miner, D. D., Boston, Hon. E. Trask, Springfield, Mass., Rev. G. W. Bailey, Lebanon, N. H. Springfield, So. Woodstock, Bethel, Northfield and East Montpelier competed for the institution. It is said through influence of Judge Tilden, largely, Barre location won, a 9½ acre lot of land on an elevated plain, a little to the north of Barre village, commanding a wide and beautiful prospect. The building committee was Hon. Heman Carpenter, L. F. Aldrich, Charles Templeton; T. W. Silloway, of Boston, architect. Judge Carpenter was a devoted friend to the enterprise, and Messrs. Aldrich and Templeton gave the greater part of their time for 3 years without remuneration. The budding was completed in about 4 years. 160 ft. length; central part, 52 ft. sq.; wings, 53½ ft. length by 43 width; 9 feet back from central front; foundation bed, coarse, hard gravel; walls, split granite, laid in mortar upward to basement windows; height, 5 stories; body of edifice, hard-burnt bricks, best quality; material taken out of the hill on which the building stands; manufactured on the spot at cost of about 7,000; at top of basement story, belt 9 inches width, of hewn granite, with fine cut work 4 inches deep extending completely around the building; window-sills and edifice trimmings, all of granite; over central part, two towers, extending 45 feet above the main building; but the charm of all, is the scenery amid which it is located. The sweep of view is remarkably fine the site commands. It was opened for instruction Feb. 1870, L. L. Burrington, A. M., first principal, for 2½ years, now principal of Dean Academy, Mass. F. M. Harris was the second principal, 1½ years, now principal of Somerville, Mass., High School. Henry Priest, the third and present principal, has now presided over the institution 7 years. The whole number of students to 1881, 831; graduates, 132; average attendance, 275. Rev. C. H. Eaton, class of ’70, first class of Goddard Seminary, is pastor of the Church of Divine Paternity, in place of the late E. H. Chapin, New York.

The Seminary at Barre have always been open to the education of both sexes, and have always maintained an honorable and high position in the State as an educational institution.

The Seminary has about $80,000 invested in school property; fund of $10,000 just completed—June, 1881. Present board of teachers: Henry Priest, principal, assisted by Charles C. Bates, A. M., and J. N. Darling, B. Ph., in fall term; Miss Flora C. Eaton, preceptress; Misses P. A. Thompson, A. J. Watson, S. C. Tilden, F. A. West., F. J. Hopkins, assistant teachers; W. A. Wheaton, music-teacher; J. M. Kent, penmanship. Number of trustees (1880) 30; President, Rev. W. R. Shipman, A. M., College Hill, Mass.; Vice President, N. W. Braley, M. D. (deceased) Barre; Secretary and Treasurer, George Tilden, Barre; Hon. Harvey Tilden, L. F. Aldrich, Henry Priest, Charles Templeton. David W. Mower, Esq., Miles Morrison, Esq., Rev. W. M. Kimmell, trustees residing in Barre, other trustees residing in the County: Rev. J. E. Wright, Hon. Chas. H. Heath, Hon. Clark King, A. J. Hollister, Esq., Montpelier; Hon. Heman Carpenter, John Gregory, Northfield; I. S. Dwinell, Calais; S. D. Hollister, Marshfield. Miss Tilden, teacher, now Mrs. Averill.

Principals of the Seminary were as follows: L.L. Burrington, 1870-1873; F.M. Hawes, 1873-1874; Henry Priest, 1875-1883; Alston W. Dana, 1883-1887; D.L. Maulsby, 1887-1891; Arthur W. Pierce, 1891-1896; Orlando K. Hollister, 1897-1920; Russell L. Davidson, 1921-1924; Jarvis T. Beal, 1925; Noah B. Barker, 1926-1927; George H. Rogers, 1928; Melita Knowles, 1929-1933; Anne Goode, 1934-1936; Royce S. Pitkin, 1937-1938.

Additional Sources for research about the Goddard Seminary:

  • The Vermont Historical Society has material on the Goddard Seminary in its collection.
    The bulk of the material found in the collection consists of print material and includes a fairly complete set of annual catalogs from 1870 to 1908, with scattered examples thereafter. These describe course offerings, listing of faculty and students’ names, and general information on the Seminary. As well the collection contains issues of the Goddard Record, a student publication first published in 1891. The holdings are complete from 1891 to 1904, with only scattered issues after that date. The collection also includes programs for various annual commencement activities between 1871 and 1938, as well as programs of special events such as theatrical or musical performances. Two memorial booklets honor Persis Thompson, a long-time English teacher, and William Rollin Shipman, an early trustee and benefactor.
  • Goddard College began with church, by Paul Heller and published in the Times Argus, 28 Oct 2016.

Spaulding Graded School and Spaulding High School

Spaulding Graded School in 1908

In 1887 the voters of School District No. 8 decided to erect a school, the Spaulding Graded School, on the site of the former Barre Academy. Spaulding Graded School is named after Jacob Shedd Spaulding, principal and trustee of the Barre Academy. The cornerstone for the new school was laid in 1891 and the new school was finished in time for the fall term of 1892. Spaulding High School, though, was formed before the building was functional. The first class at Spaulding High School entered in 1890 and graduated in 1894. Previous to the completion of the building, classes appear to have taken place in the old Barre Academy building, which was not torn down until the new school was finished. The architect for the new school was Lambert Packard of St. Johnsbury and the builder was Ward & Douglass, contractors of Barre.

In 1962 the citizens of Barre voted to construct a new high school, since the Spaulding Graded School was becoming overcrowded. The site chosen for the new school was the trotting park on Ayers Street. The new school was completed over the Christmas break and classes were begun in the new school in January 4, 1965.

Additional Sources for research about the Spaulding Graded School and High School:

  • The Vermont Historical Society has material on the Spaulding High School in its collection.
    The bulk of the collection falls between the years 1894-1920. The collection includes blueprints, reports, photographs, programs, albums, certificates and report cards, news-clippings, student papers, and printed material such as catalogs and school magazines, year books, and school newspapers.

Yearbooks for the Spaulding High School:


Article is based largely on the The Vermont historical gazetteer : a magazine embracing a history of each town, civil, ecclesiastical, biographical and military.
Additions, corrections, changes, and design have been made to the original source to produce this article. Those additions and changes are © 2020 by Vermont Genealogy.

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