Founding of the Academy

April 6, 1848

Agreeable to notice, publicly given, the citizens of Blairstown and vicinity convened in the Presbyterian church, in Blairstown, this day, for the purpose of selecting a site for an Academy, and appointing a committee whose business it shall be to superintend its erection…The hilltop west of the Methodist Church and south of the burying ground in Blairstown was selected for the site of the building, and was offered gratuitously for the purpose by the possessor, John I. Blair.

Blair Academy, A Sesquicentennial History by Arthur T. Hamlin ’79

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Blair Academy was founded in 1848, when wealthy merchant and railroad tycoon John Insley Blair proposed the establishment of a school to the Presbyterian Church and the town fathers of Blairstown.


Mr. Blair, the Rev. John A. Reiley, minister of the First Presbyterian Church, and Mr. John Bunnell, a local carriage maker, met on April 6, 1848, and agreed upon the school’s hilltop site, adjacent to the village of Blairstown. The land and a small building, known today as the Old Academy, were given by Mr. Blair, and soon the Blair Presbyterial Academy began educating boys and girls from the surrounding community.

John I. Blair remained the School’s principal benefactor for a half-century, and his philanthropy facilitated Blair Academy’s early growth. Buildings including Insley Hall and Locke Hall were erected in the late 1800s, and Mr. Blair’s son, DeWitt Clinton Blair, funded campus expansion and improvements, including the construction of Clinton Hall, in the early 20th century. Through the years and until the present day, the philanthropy of countless alumni, parents and friends has sustained and strengthened the School and made possible its continued evolution. In 1992, the School was entered into the National Register of Historic Places in recognition of its historic and architectural significance.

 

From its founding and through its original deeds of trust, Blair Academy has always been associated with the Presbyterian Church, specifically, the Presbytery of Newton. Blair was coeducational until 1915, when it became an all-boys’ school. Coeducation was reinstated in 1970, and today, the school welcomes a diverse student body comprising 460 college-bound young people from a multitude of backgrounds. 

Principals & Headmasters of Blair Academy
1848-1849
Dr. Isaiah Condict
1849-1852
The Rev. James G. Moore
1852-1854
The Rev. J. Kirby Davis
1854-1861 Mr. J. Henry Johnson
1861-1873
Mr. Simmons S. Stevens
1875-1883 Dr. Henry D. Gregory
1883-1892Dr. John H. Shumaker
1892-1898 Dr. William S. Eversole
1898-1927 Dr. John C. Sharpe
1927-1946 Dr. Charles H. Breed
1946-1951 Mr. Benjamin D. Roman
1951-1954 Dr. Ira A. Flinner
1954-1976Dr. James M. Howard, Jr.
1976-1989The Rev. James R. Kelley
1989-2013Mr. T. Chandler Hardwick III
2013-presentMr. Christopher M. Fortunato