cademy Building

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:

Great care is taken to prepare pupils for admission to College, whether in the Scientific or Classical course.

Young men desiring to fit themselves to teach in Public Schools, will be accommodated with a course of study designed to prepare them for that work.

The Catalogue provided a concise overview of the curriculum of the Academy:

The studies of the Academy are-- Orthography, Reading, English Grammar, Analysis and Composition, Ancient and Modern Geography, Mental and Written Arithmetic, Book-keeping, Algebra, Geometry, Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, Physiology and Hygiene, History of the United States, Universal History, Latin Grammar, Caesar, Virgil, Cicero, Greek Grammar, and Greek Reader.

Exercises in Declamation and Composition are required of every student on Friday afternoons.

There will an exhibition of the Senior Academic Class on the Monday evening preceding the close of the Winter Term.

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.

First Year

Term I

Mental Arithmetic
English Composition
Latin and Greek Lessons through the year

Term II

Mental Arithmetic completed
Geography completed
English Composition continued

Term III

Written Arithmetic
History of the United States
English Composition completed

Second Year

Term I

English Grammar
Written Arithmetic continued
History of the United States completed
Latin and Greek Lessons

Term II

Book Keeping
English Grammar continued
Written Arithmetic continued
Latin and Greek Grammars
Latin and Greek Readers

Term III

Familiar Science, elective
Book Keeping completed
Written Arithmetic completed
English Grammar completed
Latin and Greek Grammars and Readers

Third Year

Term I

English Grammar with Analysis and Parsing
Universal History
Natural Philosophy, elective
Familiar Science completed
Xenophon’s Anabasis

Term II

Physical Geography
English Grammar continued
Universal History completed
Natural Philosophy

Term III

Science of Government
Elements of Geometry
Algebra completed
Physical Geography completed
English Grammar, with Parsing, completed

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:

The Academy Building is on University Hill, and affords ample accommodations. It has recently been fitted up to accommodate boarders; and students from abroad will room and board in the Academy, with the Teachers, and be under their care. Every effort has been made to arrange the building with reference to the comfort of pupils, and they are much more agreeably situated than they would be in private families. They have a parlor for their use. Their private rooms are designed, each, to accommodate two students, and are furnished. In the school room, each student is provided with a separate desk and chair....

Academy students of suitable age are allowed to occupy rooms in the College Building, in which case they will board in the Academy, but will furnish their own rooms and pay for rent and warming of rooms, as College students.

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 '65-'66).

This building in other years: 1895 | 1915 | 1945 | 1965 | 1985 | Current
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