Kimball Union in Winter

1. a 1976Kimball Union with Mount Ascutney in the background as seen from the Potato Patch on a winter’s day in 1976. (Photograph by former faculty member C. Parker Jones ’37)

When the first snowflakes of winter begin to fall, sounds of good cheer can be heard across campus. The early flakes soon melt and disappear on ground not yet frozen, but they bring warm thoughts of the changing seasons and the eagerly anticipated winter fun. It has always been this way, as our archival collection of photographs confirms.

Shown below are some of our earliest winter photographs found among our collection of over 160 glass slides of KUA taken at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. Some of the slides were taken from buildings that were privately owned at the time, such as the one of seven cross country skiers heading out on Duncan Lane, a forgotten farm track that leads from the Annie Duncan House to land above what is now Baynes Drive. The Duncan Family also gave students permission to ski and toboggan on Duncan Hill just below their house. Another slide shows five students with their snowshoes in hand standing in front of the first Dexter Richards Hall. Daniel and Hannah Kimball’s house, now the parsonage of the Congregational Church, and the old Bryant Block, originally a store built in 1812 by Daniel Kimball and his partner John Bryant, are behind them. KUA bought the store in 1858 and converted it into a dormitory. In 1910 it was deeded back to Bryant’s son, John Duncan Bryant, class of 1845, inheritor of the Kimball home; the same year, the current Bryant Hall, a gift from J.D. Bryant, was dedicated. Sadly, the original Bryant Block burned to the ground in 1927.

2 b. new skiers

3b. sleds new

4b. snowshoes

5b. Bryant and Baxter

From the top: Cross country skiers on Duncan Lane. Building a jump on Duncan Hill below the house. Girls on the Hilltop with snowshoes. Bryant Hall, dedicated in 1910 stands to the left of Baxter Hall, shown before its 1921 renovations.

The following photographs are another example of students enjoying winter activities at KUA in the early days of the 20th century. The single skier seems to have made a successful run down the hill, in spite of having only one rather large pole. A long line of female students, having left their rooms in Bryant Block, file past the Congregational Church on their way to classes. The photograph appears to have been taken from the second Baxter Hall tower shown above. KUA students and faculty have always found Chellis Pond an ideal place for skating, especially on a sunny winter’s day. Even today, pick-up hockey and recreational skating are popular on the pond. Someone wrote on the back of a printed copy of the photograph of students in front of a renovated Baxter Hall, “Off for a winter hike!”

6.b skier 7b. church

9b. rink

8b. hike

From the top: Skiing at KUA. Students on their way to class. Skating on Chellis Pond. Getting ready for a winter hike.

Mount Ascutney, standing as Windsor County’s second highest peak at 3144 feet, can be viewed from many places on the KUA Hilltop. The mountain has silently featured in many ways over the years in the life of the school, including as the site of the annual “senior climb” to the summit, a holiday from classes begun in the late 19th century in the same tradition as today’s Head’s Holiday, as a place for skiers, or simply as a source of visual pleasure as we observe it in its ever changing seasonal colors. On a lucky day, we might witness a glorious sunrise or, later in the day, just happen to look up as we rush from one thing to the next, and be captivated by a brilliant display of color as the sun sets over the mountain. Matilda Florence May Burns, class of 1904, wrote the following poem about Mount Ascutney as a freshman 116 years ago. It was published in the December 1901 issue of The Kimball Union, which served both as a school newspaper and a general KUA publication for students and alumni. The senior editor, Jason Cook, class of 1902, published her poem along with a similar photograph as the one shown below and added: “A winter sunset over Mt. Ascutney is beautiful indeed.”

11c. Ascutney old

TO ASCUTNEY

Far away is seen Ascutney,
Standing in its strength sublime,
Ragged, cloud-capped towering upward,
Enduring e’en as Father Time.

Far below it, widely spreading,
Fields of snow celestial white.
Pine trees, birch, and spruce are climbing
To the mountain’s lofty height.

Now ‘t is stripped of all the beauty
That on summer days it wears,
For the harsh December weather
Spreads a robe of whiteness there.

How I loved on summer evenings,
When the birds had gone to rest,
To sit and gaze at Old Ascutney
As the sunset tipped its crest,

When the green woods, cool and restful,
Tinted o’er with mellow light,
Soothed and calmed my restless spirit
Like weird music in the night.

But lo! The sun is slowly sinking
Down into the western skies,
Throwing forth a radiant glory
O’er the hilltops far and wide.

And a lustrous, crimson streamer
Bathes the hoary mountain o’er,
Making snowy, crested ‘Scutney
More beauteous far than e’er before.

10. c Santa

In December of 1935, The Kimball Union, featured this full page picture of Santa Claus drawn by the Assistant Editor and Art Editor Earle Sanborn, class of 1937, with his wish to everyone for a Merry Christmas.

Today, at this time of year, we celebrate and acknowledge together all religions and beliefs, whether at the shared Holiday Dinner, the Tree Lighting Ceremony that includes a visit from Santa Claus for students and young children to enjoy, or the annual Hannukah and Candlelighting Services, both held in the Congregational Church for everyone just before the winter holidays begin. This is a time for students, faculty and staff to share their thoughts and beliefs with each other and to wish all an enjoyable holiday and a good and peaceful new year.

 

 

Celebrating Coeducation at Kimball Union Academy

The senior class traditionally presented a play in the spring. On May 8, 1915, they put on three one-act plays in the new Silver Memorial Gymnasium. KUA’s young women also performed, Spirit of Sisterhood, a pageant, in June 1915. "The graceful Greek dancers run in and follow their leader in a dance symbolic of spring."

The senior class traditionally presented a play in the spring. On May 8, 1915, they put on three one-act plays in the new Silver Memorial Gymnasium. KUA’s young women also performed, Spirit of Sisterhood, a pageant, in June 1915. “The graceful Greek dancers run in and follow their leader in a dance symbolic of spring.”

This year, we have commemorated Kimball Union’s return to coeducation in the fall of 1974, and have honored various women who, for over 200 years, have influenced the growth and success of the Academy. From the four young women of the class of 1816 who dared to be the first to be educated in a school originally established for “poor and pious young men” studying for the ministry; to Hannah Kimball, Daniel’s widow, whose dream of an Academy for young women was realized when, through her efforts, “A regularly organized Female Department went into operation in the autumn of 1840;” to former teacher Myra Everest (1879-1881), who upon hearing of the Academy’s difficulties filling the school, devised the One Hundred Dollar Plan “…whereby a student paid $100 for board, room, fuel, lights, and full tuition rights, but was required to work ‘cheerfully’ for one hour a day;” to the dedicated women faculty, staff and now trustees, who have all had such a strong influence on and shown such care for their students. And to the young women themselves whose numbers grew from four in 1816 with many hundreds more enrolled through 1934; to the 11 women in 1974, who entered what had been a boys’ school for the previous 39 years, into the thousand plus successful graduates since 1975: young women who have had a powerful influence on the success of Kimball Union in the classroom, the arts, athletics, volunteer activities, student government or just as good citizens. We celebrate them all!

: "They join in the stately minuet but scorn the peasants who pass to drink at the spring. Useless is the Spirits' pleas for mercy."

: “They join in the stately minuet but scorn the peasants who pass to drink at the spring. Useless is the Spirits’ pleas for mercy.”

Before we wish the 199th graduating class farewell, we should take a moment to look back 100 years when another class celebrated, with satisfaction, their graduation. A summary of the school year 1914-1915 appeared in The Bulletin of Kimball Union Academy in August 1915 and is reprinted below. I think, in many ways, it could be written of all the school years as each generation celebrates its accomplishments and what, at their time, seemed a great deal of good work.

The Bulletin of Kimball Union Academy

Editorial

THE YEAR 1914–1915 IN RETROSPECT

These team pictures were taken on the steps of the newly opened Silver Memorial Gymnasium in the spring of 1915. Left: The 1915 baseball team played 6 games:

These team pictures were taken on the steps of the newly opened Silver Memorial Gymnasium in the spring of 1915. The 1915 baseball team played 6 games.

As each year in the life of a school or of an individual brings its particular problems, so when completed, it should bring a distinct sense of satisfaction due to its particular successes. In looking back over the year 1914-1915 in the life of the Academy, certain things stand out prominently as matters worthy of favorable comment. In the first place, the opening of the gymnasium, with the beginning of the year, and its constant use has given to the athletic life of the school an invigorated tone. A better spirit than formerly has been shown at practice and in the games themselves. A greater percentage of the members of the school have taken part in organized athletics, and the teams have reflected this interest in a greater number of victories than for some years past. Another encouraging sign has been the increased scholarship standards, as shown by more students on the honor rolls and a much larger number of pupils from the Senior Class deciding for college and other institutions of higher education. The young men and women of the Academy are coming to see, to a degree at least, that the spirit to be shown in the class-room and on the athletic field must be the same.  The body of alumni have responded in a marked degree to the various appeals that have been made to them during the year. Two enthusiastic meetings of alumni have been held and prompt and generous responses have been made to appeals for funds for current expenses and for a small athletic endowment. Loyalty and co-operation have characterized the relations between alumni, students and teachers and from such co-operation and loyalty has resulted an efficient and vital school spirit. Altogether the year 1914-1915 has been a good year in the annals of the Academy.

Pictured here are a few members of what was described as a large group out for track in 1915. Apparently, the team results were not great as it was written that many of the younger athletes had little experience so the hope was for better results the following spring.

The 1915 track team.

The Class of 1915 celebrated the annual Senior Trip, a hike up Mount Ascutney, with a photograph taken on the summit.

The Class of 1915 celebrated the annual Senior Trip, a hike up Mount Ascutney, with a photograph taken on the summit. 

A few members of the Class of 1915 returned to Kimball Union in 1965 for their 50th reunion.

A few members of the Class of 1915 returned to Kimball Union in 1965 for their 50th reunion.