Samuel F.B. Morse Hall

Samuel F.B. Morse

WHEN, in 1900, the preliminary ballot was taken for the national Hall of Fame, Samuel F. B. Morse was chosen as one of the thirty distinguished Americans to be there commemorated. Only one other Andover graduate---Oliver Wendell Holmes ---has been thus honored; and even Holmes had no such international reputation as was Morse's in his later years. William Cullen Bryant spoke nothing less than the truth when, in presenting a statue of Morse to New York City, he declared, "The great globe itself has become his monument." (Claude Fuess. Men of Andover. Biographical Sketches in Commemoration of the One Hundred and Fiftieth Anniversary of Phillips Academy. New Haven: Phillips Academy. 1928. )

A new science building, named, according to the Cochran formula, Samuel F. B. Morse Hall, was undertaken by the Trustees, who sought to raise $250,000 by themselves to pay for it. Before it was completed, however, Cochran had contributed substantially and had purchased a chair belonging to Morse to ornament the new structure. Morse Hall was designed by Guy Lowell, who had until that time been the official School architect, but although Cochran had not liked some of his past work, he was reassured about this building when Charles Platt gave the plans his approval. The Trustees considered the original exterior of Morse Hall too ornate and asked Lowell to redraw them, but aside from that all went smoothly. (Frederick S. Allis, Jr. Youth from Every Quarter. A Bicentennial History of Phillips Academy, Andover, Andover: Phillips Academy, 1979.)

The main portion of the building is 122 feet long, 45 feet wide, three stories high. At the easterly end is a one-story wing 50 feet long, 42 feet wide which contains the laboratory area. The walls are of dark water-struck brick laid in Flemish bond with base, belt-course window sills and lintels of Deer Isle granite. The main entrance opens into a small vestibule which in turn opens upon the entrance hall, 16 feet square. This hall has a cloister, vaulted ceiling; the floors are marble. In the hall opposite the entrance is a memorial panel containing a portrait of Morse. Corridors extend east and west leading to the stair halls and the various rooms of the Department of Chemistry. The lab is in the one story wing along with a student's room, supply room, office and a large classroom.

The Department of Physics occupied the second floor including a large lab, two classrooms, supply room, office, library and a repair shop.

When built the third floor accommodated both the Departments of Biology and Mechanical Drawing. The latter comprised a large drafting room on the north side of the building. The biology lab, classroom, supply room and conservatory for raising plants and keeping aquatic specimens were also located on the third floor. (Robert A. Domingue. Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts. An Illustrated History of the Property (including Abbot Academy). Wilmington, MA: RAD Publishing, 1990.)

In 1820, at Adams's suggestion, the Trustees arranged a prescribed course for a diploma, the required studies being outlined under twenty heads, of which thirteen were classical and two mathematical. This schedule is likely to impress a modern educator as being unnecessarily one-sided, for it makes no mention of any science, of any living language except English, or of any history except that of Greece and Rome. Every boy had also to learn to sing, and to take lessons from a writing-master. (Claude Fuess. An Old New England School. A History of Phillips Academy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 1917.)

Mr. Graves, who was full of progressive ideas, was assisted in his plans by an unexpected stroke of good fortune. In the early summer of 1865, as the procession, headed by the band, was marching to the Mansion House to escort Trustees and guests to the Exhibition Hall, George Peabody, the banker and philanthropist, some of whose relatives had graduated from the Academy, said to Treasurer John L. Taylor, "What do you need most now for the school?" "A teacher of mathematics," was the reply. "What will it cost?" "About $25,000." "I will take care of it," said Mr. Peabody; and he did. Some correspondence between him and the Trustees ended in the public announcement on July 23, 1866, that he had given $25,000 for the establishment of a chair of mathematics and the natural sciences. Mr. Graves was soon after appointed the first Peabody Instructor.

The part played by Mr. Graves in reorganizing the English Department and moulding it into a scientific school preparing for college has never been fully recognized. (Ibid.)

The first [Teacher's] Seminary catalogue, published in 1831, the year the School opened, lists 80 students, over half of whom were from Andover. The purpose was "to educate Instructors of common and other Schools. Another object is to educate practical men, for all the departments of common life." Emphasis was placed from the start on instruction in the Natural Science, and the catalogue boasted of a fine set of apparatus, including a magic lantern with several hundred slides, an "Electrical Machine of a very superior kind," a chemical laboratory, "Pneumatic Apparatus," a telescope, and a cabinet of minerals. By 1832 the number had increased to 115, a course in civil engineering and surveying had been added, and a list of twenty-six subjects for the English Department (or "School") had been drawn up. The list shows no courses in Latin or Greek; it stresses mathematics and the sciences. (Frederick S. Allis, Jr. Youth from Every Quarter. A Bicentennial History of Phillips Academy, Andover, Andover: Phillips Academy, 1979.)

The value of the buildings and equipment in 1839 was estimated at over $30,000. The Seminary possessed a chemical laboratory in the basement of the Stone Academy, and a good supply of apparatus; a room fitted out with "philosophical apparatus," for experiments in what we now call physics; an extensive cabinet of minerals to illustrate the study of geology; a complete field set of instruments for practical surveying and civil engineering; and a library of eight hundred and fifty volumes (Claude Fuess. An Old New England School. A History of Phillips Academy. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 1917.) (Fuess/school4.html#chemlab)

The [Teacher's] Seminary continued as the English Department of Phillips Academy for the rest of the century, and though its students were still treated as second-class citizens, it provided a wholesome alternative to the rigidly classical curriculum of Phillips Academy. Later in the century, as American education drew away from the classical and as the role of science in contemporary curricula became more important, the English Department would prove a useful vehicle for curricular change. (Frederick S. Allis, Jr. Youth from Every Quarter. A Bicentennial History of Phillips Academy, Andover, Andover: Phillips Academy, 1979.)

[Bancroft's] curricular reforms were instituted gradually and piecemeal and were continuing right up to the time of his death in 1901. In dealing with the Classical Department, his major aims were clear. Though a classicist himself, he agreed that too great an emphasis had been placed on Latin and Greek, and he sought to introduce French and German as well. He also believed that all members of the Classical Department should have more training in English, following the advice of President Eliot of Harvard, who had urged such a step.(25) Finally, he wanted to see a stronger science program at the School. (Ibid.)

While these changes were being made in the curriculum of the Classical Department, similar reforms were being introduced into the English Department curriculum. When Cecil Bancroft took over in 1873, the English Department was still an independent branch of the school, under the leadership of La Roy F. Griffin. When he left in 1875, Dr. Bancroft quietly suggested that his successor, George C. Merrill, be Peabody Instructor in the Natural Sciences but have no independent administrative control over the English Department. By eliminating the previous two-legged administrative system, the Principal gained overall supervision of the whole School, avoided duplication in procedural matters, and achieved uniform treatment of the students in the two departments. But the Principal left curricular matters in the hands of the Peabody Instructor, who continued to make separate reports to the Trustees. In 1881 Dr. Bancroft succeeded in persuading William B. Graves, who had been Peabody Instructor from 1866 to 1870, to return to that post, and for the remainder of the century the English Department prospered under his vigorous and enthusiastic leadership. Professor Graves frankly admitted that the nature of the science courses in his department was determined by college science courses and college requirements. In 1887, for example, Graves was busy preparing a new physics course that would meet a new one at Harvard, and the following year he reported that the Andover chemistry course was shaped by Harvard's "Chem. B." As the requirements of scientific colleges like M.I.T., the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale, and the Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard grew stricter, pressure mounted to add a fourth year to the English Department program, and in 1884 this was done. It was also found that Latin was a useful subject in the scientific colleges, and accordingly at least one year of that subject was required after 1885. This move did much to break down the barrier between the two departments and to remove the superciliousness with which the Classical students had regarded their English counterparts. As Professor Graves wrote, "The Introduction of Latin as a required subject has done much to give strength and steadiness to the Dept. It can not be said now that the 'English boys' have nothing to do." As time went on, it became steadily clearer that the term "English Department" was a misnomer, and all the more so because the four-year English requirement in the Classical School was leading to the formation of an "English Department" there. Accordingly, in 1894 the name was changed to the much more appropriate "Scientific Department." (Ibid.)

In 1882 the sciences got a shot in the arm when the Trustees constructed a building to serve as a laboratory. It was a hideous brick, designed as part of a larger science building to come later.(41) The science people had to make do with this structure until 1891, when the rest of the building was completed to form the present Graves Hall. Professor Graves was ecstatic: "The completion of the Science Building marks an epoch in the history of the English Department. It restores to the Department something of the prestige which it had during the first ten years of its existence, when it possessed buildings and a faculty of its own .... it is clear that the new building, set apart for scientific work, will not only elevate the Dept to its proper relative position, but will tend to make the school more attractive to students. In its architectural proportions, the arrangement of rooms and their equipment, little is left to be desired." The only fault that he could find was that the lavatory was not properly ventilated.(42) Thus by the end of the century the newly named Scientific Department was well staffed and well equipped to turn out well prepared students for the best scientific colleges in the country. (Ibid.)

In 1881 a laboratory was constructed behind the Main Building, and ten years later a large addition was built, making the present Graves Hall. The new building not only provided excellent facilities for the study of science but relieved the pressure on recitation rooms in the Main Building. (Ibid.)

When it came to curriculum matters, there had been little change since the early 1900's. The so-called Classical course at the turn of the century put great emphasis on Latin, Greek, modern languages, English, and mathematics. There was one two-hour required course in natural sciences for the juniors---the equivalent of 9th graders---and it was possible to elect some history in the senior year; but the whole was language-oriented. The so-called Scientific Department required some work in history and the sciences, but it, too, insisted on a heavy dose of languages.(26) In the late 1920's little had changed. This was the heyday of John Dewey and progressive education, but there is no evidence that any of these educational reforms had any effect on Phillips Academy, aside from eliciting anguished cries of outrage from Al Stearns. Two changes had been introduced: Greek was no longer a required subject, much to Zeus Benner's dismay, and the distinction between the Classical and Scientific departments had been abolished, thus putting all the boys on an equal basis. The number of elective courses had been considerably broadened, but it was still possible to get an Andover diploma without having taken any course in either science or history. Yet the winds of change were beginning to reach even Andover Hill. (Ibid.)

Morse Hall

In 1927 [Thomas Cochran] wrote his friend Jim Sawyer:

We have a big plan ahead of us and it is going to take five years to complete our ideal of Phillips Academy. You must do lots of it. As a matter of fact you are one of my great inspirations and I feel handicapped when I have a sub-conscious feeling that you are not always free on account of the petty duties of your office.

Having got this off his chest, he wrote Sawyer four days later that he was taking a dose of his own medicine and resigning from "about 15 Boards of Directors. I can't advise you not to clutter yourself up and then not take the same advice and I have done so." In addition to making many large gifts himself, Cochran prevailed on his friends to contribute also. In those days there was a tacit understanding among philanthropists that each would contribute to the projects of other members of the group. As a result, the Louis J. Horowitz Foundation, whose founder was a close friend of Cochran's, contributed $200,000; Dwight Morrow, another Morgan partner, contributed $15,000; Frank Stearns, the mentor of Calvin Coolidge, gave $50,000 for the Inn; and Alfred I. DuPont contributed $125,000 for Morse Hall . The total was small when compared with what Cochran himself was doing, but they all helped. These vignettes reveal Cochran in action as a man often governed by his emotions and whims, but who never allowed fleeting fits of temper to deflect him from the great purpose he envisioned. (Ibid.)

Before 1933 it was also possible to win an Andover diploma without having had any science at all. The new curriculum made the taking of one course in science a requirement for the diploma and provided for an introductory course in science for all juniors. (Ibid.)

Increased emphasis on math, the sciences, and modern languages, the development of a more rigorous physical education program, and the establishment of the Summer Session---these were the major changes at Andover during the war years. (Ibid.)

The effect of the [Advanced Placement] program on the sciences was to encourage science teachers to develop new and advanced courses to meet the AP requirements. Up until this time the various offerings in the sciences had been one-year elementary courses and minor courses for Seniors who wanted to keep in touch with the subject. Now in both chemistry and physics new advanced courses were offered to meet the AP requirements. Encouragement was also given to students taking the physics AP exam to take calculus at the same time. A variation on this was the science honors course, open to only a small number of very able students, which, in the course of two years, prepared the student for both the chemistry and the physics AP. It was assumed that these students would take calculus at the same time. Generally the AP program provided a strong stimulus to the teaching of advanced courses at Phillips Academy. (Ibid.)

In many ways the climax of the Kemper administration came with the Andover Program, initiated in 1959 and completed in the early 1960's. Up to this point in the history of the School, there had never been a program so carefully researched, so efficiently organized, and so successfully realized. Yet it was only the climax to a building program that had begun in the early 1950's. (Ibid.)

Specifically the program entailed the following projects:

The Sciences

A new Science building to meet the needs of the school. School enrollment had gone up 25 percent in the past twenty-five years, science course enrollment, 60 percent. The old building, Morse Hall, was clearly inadequate.

A remodeling of Morse Hall to provide additional classroom space. Only 32 percent of Andover teachers had classrooms of their own.


The remodeling of Morse Hall for the Mathematics Department, the remodeling of West Quadrangle dorms so as to provide them with Commons Rooms, the construction of two new Faculty houses, and, finally, the construction of what was named the Sylvia Kemper Chapel, after the wife of the Headmaster, who had died, all served useful purposes and stimulated undergraduate activities previously handicapped by lack of adequate facilities. (Ibid.)