During the first half of the nineteenth century, opportunities for college preparatory studies were limited in central Pennsylvania. Prospective students needed an ability to read Latin and Greek in order to master the collegiate curriculum, which was centered on these classical languages. Ministers, private tutors, and Academies provided such instruction. On October 5, 1846, Stephen W. Taylor and his son, Alfred, opened a “high school” for boys and girls “in the lecture room of the Baptist Church” in Lewisburg. This school prepared the boys for collegiate studies.
Thomas U. Walter and the Construction of the Academy
On February 25, 1848, ground was broken for the Academy Building, which was completed by January 1849 and was occupied in April of the same year, when the boys and girls moved there from the basement of the Baptist meeting house. This was the first building to be erected on the new seventy-acre campus and was located in the area that became known as The Hill. The classical Greek style building was designed by Thomas Ustick Walter (1804-1887), who was the architect of the National Capitol dome and wings, and was built at a cost of approximately $ 8,000.00. Local workmen did the construction: “Noll and Crites had the carpenter work, L.B. Christ the brick and plastering; brick-work was let to Reed & Baker, painting to Metzger & Munson.” The building was named the Academy Building of the University at Lewisburg.
The Academy Building, 1849-1860
In 1852, the Female Institute became a separate department of the University and the girls moved to the Casey Mansion. The first college classes were held in the Academy Building, and, “This [sharing] arrangement continued until the college building was completed.” In 1860, the building was “fitted up for a boarding school for boys and young men” at a cost of $ 2,000.00 to provide sixteen dormitory rooms, a dining hall and a suitable apartment for a family as well as a classroom.
Courses of Study
The Academy offered a Preparatory Course to prepare boys for the College as well as a course that was designed to prepare young men to be teachers:
The Catalogue provided a concise overview of the curriculum of the Academy:
For the 1865-1866 Academic Year, students enrolled in the Academy took a three-year course of subjects to complete the academic program. A specific text was prescribed for most of these subjects.
At this time, there were no public high schools in central Pennsylvania and the high school movement did not really begin until the 1880's.
Accommodations, Board and Costs
Students in the Academy lived at home, with families in the surrounding area, in the Academy Building or in the College Building. The Catalogue described the accommodations provided in the University:
In 1865, the tuition for all classes per term was $8.00. Board and a furnished room was $40.00; fuel for the public rooms was $1.50. Students also paid .50 per term for the care and cleaning of the public rooms.The boys were also assessed a $1.00 fee for "repairs by general average." In 1865, three teachers taught one hundred and twenty boys in the Academy.
"high school" Oliphant, p. 31; Linn, p. 546
"in the lecture room..." Linn, p. 546
"Noll and Crites had..." Linn, p. 549
"this arrangement continuted..." Mauser, p. 77
"fitted up for a boarding..." Mauser, p. 78
"Great care is taken..." CAT '64-'65, p. 24
"The studies of the..." ib.
"The Academy Building..." ib., pp. 23-24
"Academy students of..." ib., p. 24
"repairs by..." BT '46-'82, p. 451 (7/26/1865)
The major source for the information on this page is
the Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Bucknell University, 1846-1882
(BT '46-'82). Additional sources are Oliphant, Rise of
Bucknell; Theiss, Centennial History; Mauser, Centennial
History; Linn, Annals; and the University At Lewisburg
1864-1865 15th Annual Catalogue (CAT '64-'65) and the
University At Lewisburg 1865-1866 16th Annual Catalogue (CAT
This building in other years: 1895
| 1915 | 1945
| 1965 | 1985
Back to the Bucknell History Page | Back to the 1865 Page