The White Mountain School: History

  • Founded

    On September 21st, eight boarders, fourteen day students and six teachers begin classes at Saint Mary’s School, an Episcopal school for girls, in a mansion on South Main Street in Concord, NH. Bishop William Woodruff Niles is the driving force behind its opening. Miss Elizabeth Montague-Gainforth is the principal of St. Mary's from 1886-1900.
  • SMS Students

    SMS Students
    St. Mary's girls in 1888. Mary Niles, daughter of founder, Bishop Niles, is seated on the right. Mary and her sister, Bertha (class of 1891), taught at St. Mary's following their graduation.
  • Winter in Concord

    Winter in Concord
    Shown are two of the South Main Street buildings of St. Mary's School in Concord during the winter (circa 1900)
  • Graduation photo from 1926

    Graduation photo from 1926
    St. Mary's classmates on graduation day in 1926.
  • St. Mary's School moves to Sugar Hill, NH

    St. Mary's School moves to Sugar Hill, NH
    Headmistress Dorothy ‘Aunt Dot’ McLane moves our School to the White Mountains to allow students to be "part of something larger than themselves." The School temporarily resides at the estate of author Ernest Poole in Sugar Hill.
    The School is officially renamed St. Mary's-in-the-Mountains and is also popularly known as St. Mary's or SMS.
  • 'Aunt Dot' moves the School to The Seven Springs Estate

    'Aunt Dot' moves the School to The Seven Springs Estate
    'Aunt Dot' moves our School to its permanent home overlooking Mount Washington and the Presidential Range at the Seven Springs Estate, sold to St. Mary's-in-the-Mountains by Eman and Mary Payne Beck.
  • Valliant House purchase

    Valliant House purchase
    Bursting at the seams and under the direction of Headmistress Miss Mary Jenks, St. Mary's purchases Vaillant House, part of the original Beck Seven Springs Estate from George and Suzannah Vaillant. Dr. Henry Vaillant served on our School's Board of Trustees from 1993 to 2012 and was awarded an honorary diploma in the fall of 2012.
  • Hill House purchase

    St. Mary's-in-the-Mountains purchases Hill House, also part of the original Beck Seven Springs Estate from W. Kent and Elizabeth Newcomb. Mary Newcomb Couglan graduated from SMS in 1949 and her daughter, Suzie Coughlan graduated in 1977.
  • New classroom wing is built.

    New classroom wing is built.
    A new classoom wing with science laboratories is added to the main building.
  • Fire destroys original Seven Springs Estate building

    Fire destroys original Seven Springs Estate building
    On January 3rd, a fire destroys the original Seven Springs 40-room Estate Building. It is Christmas vacation- no students are harmed. All that can be recovered from the ashes is an illuminated Bible and Mexican silver cross. Students resume class in January, many moving into Peckett's-on-Sugar Hill, a local inn famous for its skiing associations.
  • St. Mary's is re-built.

    St. Mary's is re-built.
    After considering numerous options, a determined and devoted group of trustees, alumnae and friends of the School vow to rebuild St. Mary's. The Rebuilding Committee is co-chaired by Posey Piane Fowler '49 and Gil Tanis, Trustee. John Carter, Trustee, designs a new main building and Burroughs dormitory, named after esteemed Board Chair, Dorothy Burroughs '53. This photo was taken at graduation 1965 which was held in the nearly completed new main building.
  • Carter Opens

    Students move into the new Carter dormitory named after Edith Carter, P'44 and trustee.
  • St. Mary's becomes coeducational

    St. Mary's becomes coeducational
    St. Mary's becomes coeducational, starting with 6 male day students this year.
  • St. Mary's-in-the-Mountains is renamed The White Mountain School

    St. Mary's-in-the-Mountains is renamed The White Mountain School
    St. Mary's-in-the-Mountains is renamed The White Mountain School and Outdoor Education is linked with the academic curriculum.
  • WMS Cultural Events Series Begins

    A long-time contributor to North Country Arts, The White Mountain School begins its Cultural Event Series, bringing talented performers to our School and the local community throughout the year. Our Cultural Event Series continues today.
  • WMS opens its first environmentally friendly facility

    WMS opens its first environmentally friendly facility
    Solar Dormitory is dedicated in honor of Dorothy McLane, former Headmistress, and features new active solar technology. Solar technology has come a long way since that time. This photo shows the dorm as it neared completion in the late 1970s.
  • WMS celebrates 100th birthday!

    The White Mountain School/ St. Mary's celebrates 100 years. "Our First 100 Years: The Centennial History" is written by Linda Clark McGoldrick '55, P'82, '84 and Director of Development.
  • A New Mission Statement is Adopted

    "It is the mission of The White Mountain School..." A new mission statement is adopted, formally stating the mind, body and spirit connection that has been part of our School since 1886.
  • Hill House Renovation

    Hill House Renovation
    Hill House undergoes extensive renovations to accommodate the Admission and Alumnae/i Offices, two faculty apartments and dorm rooms for eleven students.
  • Great Hall flags dedicated

    Great Hall flags dedicated
    Flags from every student's home country or state are hung in the Great Hall to celebrate our diversity.
  • Fitness Center and Climbing Wall Open

    Fitness Center and Climbing Wall Open
    Our Fitness Center is completed, featuring a 3000 sq. ft. indoor climbing wall, the largest in New England at the time! Library renovations occured during this time period, too.
  • Light Blue, Dark Blue Teams Reinstated

    Light Blue, Dark Blue Teams Reinstated
    Year-long and school-wide competitions between Light Blue and Dark Blue begin again, reviving a tradition from early St. Mary's days. The winning team has their team flag hung prominently in the School.
  • WMS Adds 1st Secondary School Sustainability Studies Department in the country

    Strong in Environmental Studies since the 1970s, The White Mountain School adopts a more holistic, systems-based approach, adding the Sustainability Studies Department. We are the first high school in the country to have such a department. The process was begun at least 4 years prior. when our School led a conference titled, "Sustainability and the Reform of Secondary Education".
  • Community Garden Established

    Community Garden Established
    A student-maintained organic garden is established below the classroom wing and later moved to the Vaillant land adjacent to campus. We enjoy fresh produce late into the fall from our labor. Our farm has expanded to include chickens, an orchard and composting.
  • Fred Steele Science Center Opens

    Fred Steele Science Center Opens
    The Fred Steele Science Center is built, featuring solar panels and passive solar features. It is named after beloved science teacher, Fred Steele who taught at our School from 1946-1980. Several other campus renovations are completed in the years following, including several key energy efficiency improvements.
  • WMS is recognized for its Global Sustainability efforts

    The White Mountain School is nationally recognized for our sustainability innovations, receiving the National Association of Independent Schools Leading Edge Award for Global Sustainability.
  • WMS Earns Federal Grant for Energy Efficiency Projects

    Additional energy efficiency projects in Carter and Burroughs Dorms and in the McLane Building begin after receipt of a federal energy grant.
  • Dining Hall Servery Renovation

    WMS opens the 2013-2014 school year with a beautiful new dining hall servery.
  • Catherine Houghton Arts Center

    Catherine Houghton Arts Center
    The grand opening of the Catherine Houghton Arts Center is celebrated. Named in memory of Catherine "Kitty" Houghton '60, trustee who led the funding for both an enhanced music program and the new building, it houses two dance studios, a drawing and painting studio and a music classroom with practice rooms and a recording studio.
  • "We are a school of inquiry and engagement...."

    The mission statement is updated to directly reference the School's dedication to engagement with the liberal arts and authentic inquiry.
    "We are a school of inquiry and engagement. Grounded in our Episcopal heritage, we prepare and inspire students to lead lives of curiosity, courage and compassion."
  • New Dormitory Built

    New Dormitory Built
    The School's new, two-story, 30-bed dormitory (left) and employee duplex (right), which were built on the former sites of Carriage and Green Houses. Designed to be a community-oriented, accessible, and environmentally-friendly home away from home, the new dormitory represents the first new student housing in over four decades at White Mountain, the last of which was Solar Dormitory in the 1970s.