History of the Academy

John I. Blair
John I. Blair

April 6th, 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 meeting was called to order by John I. Blair, Esq., and organized by appointing John Messler, Chairman, and Isaiah W. Condict, Secretary. 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, Esq.”

     — from Blair Academy, A Sesquicentennial History by Arthur T. Hamlin

Blair Academy is situated on 463 hilltop acres adjacent to the village of Blairstown, New Jersey. In 1848, wealthy merchant and railroad tycoon John Insley Blair proposed the founding of a small school to the Presbyterian Church and the town fathers of Blairstown. Mr. Blair, The Reverend John A. Reiley, minister of the First Presbyterian Church, and Mr. John Bunnell, a local carriage maker, met on April 6, 1848, and agreed on the site for the school. Mr. Blair gave a small building (known to us now as the Old Academy) to be called Blair Presbyterial Academy. The universal public education act was 10 years away, so Blair Academy assumed the task of educating the sons and daughters of local farmers and merchants, soon reaching beyond the surrounding community.

John I. Blair was the school’s principal benefactor for a half-century, and his gifts of land and money made the growth of the school possible, such as Locke, East and Insley Halls. Mr. Blair’s son, DeWitt Clinton Blair, more than duplicated his father’s generosity by providing the funds for the construction of Clinton Hall, the gymnasium, and general improvements and expansion of the campus.

The original gifts of John I. Blair were made by deeds of trust, which provided for the control and management of the school. From its founding and through the deeds of trust, Blair has always been closely associated with the Presbyterian Church, specifically, the Presbytery of Newton.

Blair was co-educational until 1915, when it became an exclusively boys’ school. Co-education was reinstated in 1970 with great success. The school welcomes student and faculty members from a variety of cultural, economic, ethnic and educational backgrounds. Students in grades nine through twelve and a select number of postgraduates, almost without exception, are college-bound.

In 1992, Blair Academy was entered on to the National Register of Historic Places in recognition of its historic and architectural significance.

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
1883-1892 Dr. 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
1954-1976 Dr. James M. Howard, Jr.
1976-1989 The Rev. James R. Kelley
1989-2013 Mr. T. Chandler Hardwick III
2013- Mr. Christopher M. Fortunato