Foxcroft Hall

Esquire Phillips's satisfaction in his son's career was, however, to be somewhat dampened. While Samuel Phillips, Jr., was residing in Cambridge, he became intimately acquainted with Miss Phoebe Foxcroft, youngest daughter of the Honorable Francis Foxcroft, of that city. She was handsome, cultivated, and attractive, and belonged to an excellent family, in which she had received many social and educational advantages; but unfortunately she was nearly nine years older than her admirer, and Phillips's parents saw in this disparity an insuperable objection to the match. The argument that his uncle John of Exeter had taken for a wife a woman eighteen years his senior might have been used with effect by the nephew; but Esquire Phillips's consent was withheld, and, as a result, the young man, shortly after leaving Harvard, fell seriously ill. At a moment when his life was despaired of, he confided to his physician that he was dying of disappointed hope far more than of the mere physical disease with which he was afflicted. The doctor interceded with the parents, who for once found themselves obliged to yield. The whole incident suggests that beneath a calm exterior Phillips concealed a strong and passionate nature.

Luckily the concession was not too late; the patient soon recovered, and, after a delay of two years, the marriage was celebrated in 1773. The two thus united were decidedly different in character: he was quiet, sedate, and economical; she was impulsive, lively, and extravagant. In every respect she seemed younger than he. The marriage proved to be exceedingly happy, and even Esquire Phillips had no reason to regret the approval wrung from him with so much difficulty. The younger Phillips was an adoring husband; indeed, on one occasion, in 1785, he observed the twelfth anniversary of their wedding by presenting her with a copy of some verses attributed to Benjamin Franklin, a few stanzas of which may well be quoted:---

Of their Chloes and Phillises poets may prate,
   I sing my plain country Joan,
Now twelve years my wife, still the Joy of my Life,
   Blest day when I made her my own.
In peace and good order my Household she keeps,
   Right careful to save what I gain;
Yet cheerfully spends, and smiles on the friends
   I've the pleasure to entertain.
Am I laden with care, she takes off a large share
   That the Burden ne'er makes me to reel;
Does good fortune arrive, the joy of my wife,
   Quite doubles the pleasure I feel.
Was the fairest young princess with millions in purse
   To be had in exchange for my Joan,
She cou'd not be a better wife, might be a worse, ---
   I'll cling to my lovely old Joan.

The couple had two children: John Phillips, born August 18, 1776, who inherited the Phillips Mansion in North Andover; and Samuel Phillips, born in 1782, who died of a fever when be was only fourteen years old. Madame Phillips survived her husband by ten years. At her death Eliphalet Pearson, in speaking of her and her husband, paid them a deserved tribute: --

Of them both it may be said that their hearts were not more united by mutual esteem and affection, than by acts of charity and munificence. (Claude Fuess. An Old New England School. A History of Phillips Academy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 1917.)

IN the following pencilled draft of a talk evidently given by Rev. Samuel C. Jackson at the opening of Smith Hall in 1854, a link is recovered in the chain of circumstances resulting in the founding of the school. The "venerable gentleman" referred to was undoubtedly "Squire" Farrar, who had shortly before resigned his position as trustee after twenty years of energetic service. It was he who is said to have advised Mrs. Sarah Abbot to use her "surplus funds" to "found an academy in Andover for the education of women," and to have been ready with this suggestion because of his long familiarity with the idea through association with his honored friend, Madam Phillips. Mr. Jackson, in this bit of paper, preserved for many years, takes the story further as he had it from the lips of Mr. Farrar himself.

"I was informed this afternoon in conversation with the aged and venerable gentleman who has been patron of all our literary institutions --- of this among the rest --- & whose whole business life has been identified with them, that when young Sam'l Phillips, of the North Parish, just out of college had projected Phillips Academy & had persuaded his father to found it upon this Hill, that he found it desirable to remove here that he might the better look after & cherish it. This involved a sacrifice. It became necessary for him & his refined & accomplished wife [Phoebe Foxcroft] who had been reared in high life at Cambridge to exchange a pleasant mansion there for the old small ill constructed & homely dwelling here. As an inducement to her to make the sacrifice, Mr. Phillips proposed to her & it was understood between them, that if she would unite with him in building up Phillips Academy here, he would afterwards join with her in founding an Academy for girls in the North Parish. This noble project was not executed. Mr. Phillips did not live to accomplish it. ..."(Jane B. Carpenter, Abbot in the Early Days, Abbot, 1959, Chapter 23.)

The future site of Phillips (Foxcroft) Hall was a boggy huckleberry lot which could only be crossed during the wet season by leaping from stone to stone. The enclosure in front of it was then a whortleberry pasture where people of all ages used to go to pick berries. The site of the main campus was filled with birches, alders, briers and berry bushes along the western side of which, near the road, was a low stone wall. The entire hill area was like the English Dartmoor, where the higher you go, the wetter the land seems to be. The fine view was not considered sufficient compensation for these inconveniences and the soil itself, of mediocre quality, had not lured many settlers from the fertile river valley. (Robert A. Domingue. Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts. An Illustrated History of the Property (including Abbot Academy). Wilmington, MA: RAD Publishing, 1990.)

Foxcroft Hall, the earliest of the brick dormitories in the old Seminary Row, was erected by Madame Phoebe Foxcroft Phillips and her son, John Phillips, Esq., and tendered to the Trustees completed on September 27, 1809; and I can find no mention whatever of its architect. There is a tradition that it was modeled closely after one of the dormitories at Brown and that Colonel John Phillips visited Providence on a tour of inspection. It was common enough in those days for a contractor to prepare his own designs, but even the name of the builder has disappeared with the passage of time. (Claude Fuess. Men of Andover. New Haven: Phillips Academy. 1928.)

IN 1808 an event occurred that was to have a profound effect on the fortunes of Phillips Academy: the Andover Theological Seminary was founded. It is not too much to say that the Seminary was the most important single influence on the School; but during its hundred years of existence, it set the intellectual and religious tone of Andover Hill as well. It soon eclipsed Phillips Academy in endowment, buildings, and reputation. A few years after its founding, it included two large brick dormitories---the present Foxcroft and Bartlet Halls---with a chapel and recitation building, the present Pearson Hall, located between them to make an impressive façade in the eastern part of the campus. (Frederick S. Allis, Jr. Youth from Every Quarter. Andover: Phillips Academy. 1979.)

The Andover Theological Seminary thus organized was formally opened for students on September 22, 1808, in the South Parish Church, with appropriate exercises, including a prayer by Mr. French, the reading of the Constitution of the Seminary and the Associate Statutes, and an historical summary by Dr. Pearson of the rise and progress of the Academy, in which he proved that the Seminary was a logical outgrowth of Phillips Academy and that the two institutions should therefore work in harmonious coöperation. In the afternoon a sermon was preached by Dr. Timothy Dwight, Dr. Pearson, who was a layman, was regularly ordained, and the two professors, Pearson and Woods, were installed in office. Professor Woods then delivered an inaugural address on The Glory and Excellence of the Gospel. Nineteen students were at once received, and thirty-six had registered before the close of the first year. "We may live to see twenty students here," said 'Squire Farrar, as he walked away from the church after the ceremonies; he lived to see one hundred and fifty. Until Phillips Hall was completed in 1809 lectures were held in the old Abbot House, where Dr. Woods had recently followed Principal Newman as a resident. Dr. Pearson, who had accepted a professorship only with great reluctance, found the position little to his taste and resigned at the end of the first year.

The aspect of Andover Hill at once began to change. Phillips Hall, a dormitory for Seminary students, was erected by Madame Phoebe Phillips and her son, at a cost of $16,000. It was modeled principally after dormitories at Brown University, which Colonel John Phillips had gone to Providence to inspect. Madame Phillips put her heart into the project, and is reported to have said, "I hope a prayer will be offered for every hod of brick, and every bucket of mortar used in the erection." A wooden steward's house, containing a kitchen, a dining-room, and accommodations for the steward and his family, was constructed in the rear of the brick hall. Here the Seminary Commons boardinghouse was opened and continued until 1846; the building itself was moved about 1850 to the northeast corner of Main and Morton Streets, where it is to-day occupied as a dwelling. (Claude Fuess. An Old New England School. A History of Phillips Academy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 1917.)

Andover Theological Seminary, circa 1830
Phillips Hall, Bartlet Chapel, Bartlet Hall

The three central buildings of Andover Theological Seminary were then complete, standing just as they do to-day. Elizabeth Stuart Phelps's description of them is worth quoting: --

All of brick, red, rectangular, and unrelieved; as barren of ornament and broken lines as a packing box, and yet curiously possessed of a certain dignity of their own; such as we see in aged country folk unfashionably dressed but sure of their local position.

A footpath led from the turnpike through the stone wall across a bush pasture to Phillips Hall, and a road was shortly built from Salem Street behind the "row." (Ibid.)

Up to this date the land on Andover Hill had not been a popular place of residence. The early settlements in the South Parish, quite naturally, had been made along the Shawsheen or on the gentle slope above the river. On the Hill were small patches of poorly cultivated farm land, in the midst of stretches of rocky pasture and clumps of stunted trees and bushes. Part of the territory was marshy, some almost swamp; and the meadows during rainy periods were flooded until they resembled shallow lakes. Phillips Hall, built in 1809, stood on the border of a boggy huckleberry lot, which the students and professors crossed by stepping from stone to stone. What is now the main campus was, in 1778, filled with birches, alders, briers, and berry-bushes, along the western side of which, near the road, was a low stone wall. On the turnpike, near the present Pease House, stood an old, unoccupied dwelling; the Abbot House on Phillips Street has already been mentioned; the so-called Blunt Tavern (later the Berry House and now the Johnson House) had been built by Captain Isaac Blunt before 1765; these houses, with the carpenter's shop just spoken of, were the only buildings then standing on the land occupied to-day by Phillips Academy. (Ibid.)

At the time of the founding of the Theological Seminary, when Madam Phoebe Phillips and her son John were having difficulty meeting their pledge to erect Phillips Hall, he came to their aid. His daughter remembers seeing in his account book entries that said simply "Ch----y" [charity] with no statement as to the object aided. His legal acumen proved invaluable when the complicated negotiations leading to the founding of the Andover Theological Seminary were taking place; the original draft of the Associate Statutes was in his handwriting. Madam Phoebe Phillips, near the end of her life, experienced financial difficulties, partly because of the drain placed on her resources by the cost of Phillips Hall and partly because of her son John's business reverses. Squire Farrar---as he was called---again helped. In 1812 he finished building a new house, located on the site of the present Archaeology Building. As soon as it was completed, he asked Madam Phillips to move in and spend her remaining days there. Even though she died that same year, it must have been a comfort to her to know that she was provided for. (Frederick S. Allis, Jr. Youth from Every Quarter. Andover: Phillips Academy. 1979.)

Addison Kingsbury wrote the following description of Phillips Hall in 1825, after leaving Boston in a coach with eleven passengers inside and four outside and spending three hours on the road:

I have at last succeeded in obtaining a room in the fourth story, though with few or no accommodations. I expected the rooms were furnished. I accordingly brought no furniture with me and I find none here of consequence except a poor bed without any clothing. . . My tables are not fit to stand in your old kitchen, and as for chairs I am now sitting upon one without any back writing to you. . (Ibid.)

In June 1902 he presented a five-point program for Trustee consideration: rent Bartlet Hall from the Theological Seminary as a dormitory for Phillips boys; put steam heat in Phillips---now Foxcroft---Hall; construct a heating plant for the entire School; make Bulfinch Hall into a dining hall and demolish the Latin Commons. (Ibid.)

For Phillips Academy the transfer of the Seminary to Cambridge presented a glorious opportunity, but it also involved some uncomfortable financial problems. It was obvious that the school could not afford to lose the spacious Seminary plant, with its extensive grounds and fine old buildings. In anticipation of a plan for raising sufficient money to effect the purchase a bill was passed by the Legislature in 1905 permitting the Trustees to hold, in addition to the property which they then possessed, real and personal resources with an income up to $100,000. After a fair appraisement it was eventually agreed that the Seminary grounds on Andover hill, including Phillips Hall, Bartlet Chapel, Bartlet Hall, Brechin Hall, several residences, and over two hundred acres of land, should be sold to Phillips Academy for the sum of $200,000. (Claude Fuess. An Old New England School. A History of Phillips Academy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 1917.)

Phillips Hall, found to be badly in need of repairs, was almost entirely rebuilt in 1912, at a cost of more than $18,000; and the interior of Bartlet Hall, partly destroyed by fire on the morning of December 8, 1914, was reconstructed so as to be safe from danger of fire. (Ibid.)

Bartlet Hall and Phillips Hall, renovated during the preceding summer, were put into use as dormitories for the boys. Bartlet Chapel, rechristened "Pearson Hall," had been remodeled in the interior as a recitation building. New walks had been laid across the Seminary Campus. An article in the Phillips Bulletin describes the change as it appealed to the editor's imagination: --

Phillips Academy no longer needs to point the inquiring stranger to its half-hidden buildings on side streets and alleys. With the beginning of the current school year the Academy enters upon a new and important chapter of its long and dignified history. To-day Andover Hill is Phillips Academy. Evidence of this fact is everywhere to be found. The lights twinkling by night from scores of windows in Bartlet and Phillips Halls; the shouts of a hundred boys scattered in play over the old Seminary Campus during recreation hours; the coming and going of classes in the new Pearson Hall, formerly Bartlet Chapel; all this, and more too, is confusing perhaps to the old alumnus who gazes for the first time upon the changed scene. But the significance of it all soon dawns upon him. This is the new Phillips, well equipped in buildings and grounds, unsurpassed in natural beauty of surroundings, capable of a larger and even more illustrious future. (Ibid.)

And what a magnificent addition to the Academy plant this property was! In the first place, some of the Seminary buildings went far toward realizing Dr. Bancroft's dream of having all the boys housed in Academy houses. Bartlet and Phillips (now Foxcroft) halls were important additions in this respect, but the row of houses along Main Street that had been occupied by the Seminary professors were useful also. (Frederick S. Allis, Jr. Youth from Every Quarter. Andover: Phillips Academy. 1979.)

Ever since the acquisition of the Seminary property, the location of the center of the school had been debated by the Trustees. Up until that time the only Academy buildings on the east side of the campus had been Bulfinch Hall and the Borden Gymnasium. The old Main Building and all the dormitories were on the west side, and it was naturally assumed that the School would grow around the already existing buildings to the west of Main Street. Indeed, in the April 1919 Bulletin, published just as the drive was getting started, there appeared an elaborate plan for the development of what is presently the West Quad, prepared by the school's architect, Guy Lowell of Boston. It provided for a Memorial Building located between the present Johnson and Rockwell dormitories but set back further west, as well as sites for new dormitories to be built sometime in the future. According to Al Stearns, the issue was far from decided, as the Trustees divided into East Siders and West Siders. The West Siders pointed out that the east side of Main Street was a poor place to expand because the Seminary buildings already dominated the area and because there was a large granite ledge behind them that precluded expansion further eastward. The issue was finally resolved by George B. Case, recently elected Trustee. He had been wandering around the campus early one morning and had conceived the idea of locating the new main building at the site of the ledge behind the Seminary buildings. The ledge could be removed, he insisted. Then to open up a vista from the new main building to Main Street, he proposed moving Pearson Hall from its position between Bartlet and Foxcroft halls and placing it at a right angle to those two buildings so as to provide another side of a large quadrangle. The School's new architect and landscape designer, Charles Platt, of New York, was enthusiastic about the scheme and insisted that it could be done easily. The West Siders were converted by Case's eloquent arguments, and his plan was followed. (Ibid.)

Taken together, George Washington Hall and Morse Hall fulfilled part of Cochran's dream, for they completed the so-called "Great Quadrangle," consisting also of Samuel Phillips Hall on the east, Bartlet and Foxcroft dormitories on the west, and Pearson Hall on the south. This cluster of buildings could serve as a focal point, to which structures yet to come could be related. (Ibid.)

Tom was extraordinarily sensitive to criticism. When a self-important member of the faculty was heard declaring that he didn't like the location of the Armillary Sphere, Cochran gave orders the next morning to have it shifted to another spot on the campus. When Mr. Platt casually remarked that the two dormitories, Bartlet and Foxcroft, would be better proportioned if they were only three stories high instead of four, Tom broke out, "Look here ---you take off the top story, and do it damned quick!"  (Claude Fuess. Independent Schoolmaster. Boston: Little, Brown. 1952.)

In 1928 he presented to the School an extraordinarily beautiful armillary sphere created by Paul Manship. Originally sited in front of Samuel Phillips Hall between Bartlet and Foxcroft Halls, it was later moved to a position in front of the Oliver Wendell Holmes Library. Not everyone approved of the Armillary Sphere. One day a member of the Faculty noticed a workman polishing the Sphere, and asked him, "What are you doing? Taking some of the curse off the damn thing?" The workman, it turned out, was none other than Paul Manship himself. (Frederick S. Allis, Jr. Youth from Every Quarter. Andover: Phillips Academy. 1979.)