The school grew rapidly. In 1825 the Calvinist Baptists were persuaded to sponsor the school, and the academy became New Hampton Academical and Theological Institution. In 1827, a separate women’s department was established in the village (the present site of New Hampton School), while the men’s department remained at the Old Institution (a long mile away). By 1833, a full graduate theology curriculum existed, along with the English and classical curricula for secondary students. Classroom buildings and dormitories were added. Between 1835 and 1850, more than 300 different students enrolled for at least one of the four terms each year.
During these growing years, however, the New Hampshire Baptist Society failed to finance the school adequately and, in 1853, the society relocated the school to Fairfax, Vermont, because the Vermont Baptist Society promised sufficient funds to operate it. The faculty, most of the students, and almost all the movables, including the chapel bell, went to Vermont.
Growth and Transition
Three assets remained: (1) the energy and vision of certain townspeople, especially Colonel Rufus G. Lewis, who engaged the Freewill Baptist (the denomination to which most of the townspeople belonged) to buy the buildings and operate their own school; (2) the libraries of the Literary Adelphi and the Social Fraternity, who had voted not to join the students’ exodus and to “forever remain at New Hampton” (their strategy being to send their libraries to a Boston bindery just before the relocation began so that, by the time the books were rebound and returned, the Calvinist Baptist School would be gone); and (3) the name “New Hampton” which had come to signify one of the best schools in New Hampshire.
Early in 1853, a new corporation opened the school, now called New Hampton Literary and Biblical Institution, for the purpose of “the promotion of literature, science, and the useful arts, morality and the Christian religion.”
The corporation bought the school’s buildings and moved them from the Old Institution to the Village, including the largest dormitory, called “The Brick,” a 100 by 36-foot, four-story brick building, which was torn down brick by brick, carted to the village in three days by 100 oxen pulling 50 oxcarts, and rebuilt and renamed Randall Hall. The women’s department opened with 57 students, the men’s department with 41 students.
Again, the school grew rapidly. A biblical department flourished from 1854 to 1870, at which time it relocated to Lewiston, Maine, to become part of Bates College. In 1866, President Atwood Bond Meservey initiated a commercial curriculum that grew into New Hampton Commercial College, a post-secondary department. Other courses, including a two-year agricultural course, were introduced. About 1910, Lane, Draper, and Berry were built. Enrollments again passed 300 per year.
An Era of Change
By 1910, the success of the growing public schools was beginning to affect New Hampton’s enrollment. In addition, the decline of local population and patronage, the withdrawal of Baptist support in 1915, and the dislocations caused by the World War weakened the school. After the centennial year of 1921, enrollments dropped drastically, and by 1926 only 44 students were enrolled.
That year a man with extraordinary energy and vision was appointed headmaster. Frederick Smith, a 1910 graduate of New Hampton, restructured the school’s finances, changed the school to a boys’ college preparatory school, called The New Hampton School for Boys, and actively recruited out-of-state boys. By the end of his first year, he had recruited 100 new students. Under Mr. Smith’s leadership, and in spite of the Great Depression, the school grew to more than 150 boys. In 1959, Mr. Smith retired, and T. Holmes Moore, New Hampton 1938, became headmaster.
Although still considered a college preparatory school, New Hampton (since 1959 called New Hampton School) under Mr. Moore’s leadership broadened its scope in response to changing social values and economic conditions. A new dining hall, gym, infirmary, and dorms were built. Enrollments grew again to about 300.