School founder, Maria Harrison Bissell, is born on August 14 on Tory Hill, half a mile south of where the School now stands. Maria becomes a teacher in Salisbury; in 1850, she marries Benjamin Berkeley Hotchkiss, who goes on to establish himself as one of the world's leading arms manufacturers.
Benjamin Hotchkiss dies at 59 on February 14. In years leading up to his death, the bigamous Hotchkiss moved to Paris with his mistress and married her in a French civil ceremony. Leaving no will, Hotchkiss’s fortune goes to Maria. The New York Herald publishes a story in 1888 about the late Benjamin Hotchkiss’s extramarital affair and the resulting scandal.
Maria Hotchkiss, along with ten other educators and benefactors, signs the Articles of Association, constituting the governing body of The Maria Hotchkiss Association. In the end, she decides to open a library in the neighboring town of Sharon and establish a boys’ school.
As an advisor, Timothy Dwight, president of Yale University, asks Maria to consider opening a private school to prepare young men for college, particularly Yale University. Maria holds firmly to one stipulation: an assurance of financial accessibility and that “deserving boys from the surrounding communities would receive free tuition.”
There is probably no handsomer piece of educational architecture in the U.S., in proportion to its cost than the new Preparatory School, for Yale College, popularly known as The Hotchkiss School, will be when the finishing touches are given to the noble structure.The Millerton Telegram, April 1892
The first Board of Trustees meeting is held, as documented in the minutes: “It was voted to accept the deed presented by Mrs. Hotchkiss, of a tract of land for the use of the School.” Frederick J. Kingsbury begins his eight-year term as the first President of the Hotchkiss Board of Trustees.
The original Main Building is completed. It is designed by architect Bruce Price, whose name is associated with Tuxedo Park, New York, America’s first planned community.
The Hotchkiss School opens, and Edward G. Coy, former faculty member in Andover’s classics department, begins his tenure as the first headmaster. Subjects taught include Greek, Latin, English, French, German, and mathematics. St. Luke’s Society—the School’s oldest club—is established, named after St. Luke’s Day, October 18, the day when students arrived. Football is the first team sport played on campus.
Two teams and societies — Pythians and Olympians — are established for intramural competition. They also produce The Hotchkiss Annual, the first student publication. The publication is later renamed the Meshchianza in 1896, and then subsequently the Mischianza in 1903. The School’s first newspaper, called The Record, begins publication as a monthly. The debate club, known as the Areopagus Society, is formed, joining St. Luke’s as one of the School’s oldest clubs.
The Hotchkiss School believes it a student’s [sic] duty to be first a gentleman, then a scholar, and then an athlete, is possible.”The Hotchkiss Annual, 1893
Bissell Hall is built, designed by Boston architects Loring and Phipps. This is Maria Hotchkiss’s last gift to the School.
The trustees vote and approve Coy’s proposal that the head of Minerva be adopted for the School seal. Moniti Meliora Sequamur (which, loosely translated from Virgil’s Aeneid, means: “After instruction, let us pursue higher things”) is chosen as the school motto.
Otto F. Monahan becomes the School’s first athletic director.
Fair Hotchkiss is written by William LeRoy Dix ’98. The three verses and a chorus, originally sung to the tune of Die Wacht am Rhein, are learned by all students during their first days on campus and sung during graduation.
Courses are divided at the Upper-Mid year, providing both Classical and the first scientific curricula. “Classical” courses include: Latin, Greek, German, French, mathematics, and history; “Science” courses include: Latin, German, French, mathematics, history, English, and science.
Maria Hotchkiss dies in New York at the age of 74 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. After a funeral at her brother’s farm on Tory Hill in Lakeville, she is laid to rest in Town Hill Cemetery on the Hotchkiss campus.
• Joseph Estill appointed interim head after Coy becomes ill.
• Science and “physical training” are added to the curriculum.
• The first Hotchkiss/Hill football game — a contest that would eventually assume epic proportions — is played.
By the numbers:
13 faculty, 135 boarding students, and 10 day students.
Huber G. Buehler begins his term as the second head of school.
Baker Field, the School’s first athletic field, is built and named for George F. Baker ’96.
• Tuition is $850 for the year.
• Huntress Infirmary, the School’s first separate building to care for sick students, is built.
• The first production by the Hotchkiss Dramatic Association, Lyre and Lancet, A Farce in Four Acts, is staged at Roberts Opera House in Lakeville.
• Grover Tilden Davis, the first resident music teacher, is hired.
• Huber G. Buehler declares the first-ever Hotchkiss Holiday in honor of Seldon Spencer '08, who won the Chamberlain Prize at Yale, which is awarded to the freshmen with the highest entrance examination in Greek (George Van Santvoord '08 captures an honorable mention).
Snyder Track House built.
By the numbers:
223 students and 21 faculty members consume over 100,000 eggs, 5 tons of butter, and 50,000 quarts of milk a year; 100 loaves of bread for a single day; 500-600 rolls for breakfast; and 50 pies for dinner.
The former Headmaster’s House (today called Harris House) is doubled in size by an addition designed by architect Ehrick Rossiter, whose other campus contributions include the first infirmary, pool, field house, and renovations to the original Main Building.
• Rossiter completes Bryan Pool, which serves the School for more than 40 years.
• Hotchkiss Literary Monthly, edited by Britton Hadden ’16 and Henry Luce ’16, publishes its first issue. Hadden and Luce would go on to found Time magazine in 1923.
• June 1
The Hotchkiss Golf Course opens to the public at a rate of 50 cents per day
• John J. Roy is the first person hired to teach public speaking and coach drama at Hotchkiss.
• The Hotchkiss Boat House, designed by Ehrick Rossiter, is given by parents of three Hotchkiss students.
In these ten years, the School has grown in numbers from 160 to 250 students.”Trustees’ meeting notes, June 6, 1914
“The Millionaire’s Unit,” an elite group of undergraduates form the Yale Aviation Corps, including Artemus “Di” Gates ’14 (who would become Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Air and Under Secretary of the Navy) and Kenneth MacLeish ’14 (brother of Pulitzer Prize-winner Archibald MacLeish ’11), travels to New London to enlist in the Navy Reserve Flying Corps.
• George Silk Barnum hired as School’s first Spanish teacher.
• The School forms its own battalion in anticipation of the United States’ ongoing involvement in World War I. Many Hotchkiss graduates serve in the armed forces.
• Architect Cass Gilbert completes faculty houses in Memorial quad.
In the year 1895, Dr. Barss (John Edmund Barss, Latin teacher), while reading the 3rd book of Virgil, came upon the words ‘Moniti Meliora Sequamur,” which means, freely translated ‘when we get a good suggestion, let’s do better’, and realizing even at that early time that this was a school motto. Dr. Barss took it to Mr. Coy, the headmaster at that time, who laid in before the trustees. It was voted upon and established as the school motto.”The Record, October 18, 1919
Hotchkiss hosts the Annual Conference of the Eastern Section of the Chinese Students’ Alliance. Two hundred and fifty Chinese students studying at American universities come to campus.
By the numbers:
The student body totals approximately 300. Thirteen percent of the student body receives scholarship aid.
Memorial Hall is completed to memorialize those who died in World War I. It is the third of four buildings designed by architect Cass Gilbert.
• Walter H. Buell begins his two-year term as the third Headmaster, succeeding Buehler, who died unexpectedly during the School year.
• Famed golf architect Seth Raynor redesigns the Hotchkiss Golf Course.