This All School photograph was taken in 1892 in front of the new Academy building, Baxter Hall, in front of the Chellis Road entrance. The bell tower behind them was removed in 1921 and the bell placed where it is today, during renovations to the building.

On June 16, one hundred and twenty years ago, Isaac Joslin Cox, from Tuckerton, NJ, president of the class of 1892, addressed his 19 classmates and the school community at Commencement. He spoke with words of love and pride for, what he called “… the old academy on Meriden Hill ….” He began , “Assembled teachers, fellow-students, and friends: – We have met, this afternoon, in accordance with a custom observed since the founding of this institution, to celebrate the departure of another class from the historic portals of Kimball Union Academy.”

Further on, he continued, “It will ever be to us a subject of congratulation that it is our happy lot to be among the number of those who have graduated from this renowned academy; that we have experienced the kindness and good-will of those who dwell in its vicinity; that we have enjoyed the grand and picturesque scenery afforded by the rugged mountains, the verdant hills and widening valleys which enclose it; that we have met the kindly teachers who make its name celebrated, the genial and friendly students who have filled the hours of our sojourn with enjoyment; and that as alumni of KUA we shall join the circle of those distinguished persons whose deeds have reflected an undying luster upon the dear old alma mater.”

He spoke to the underclassmen saying, “Today we would only remember the charm of social conversation, the sports enjoyed together, the books pursued in company, the agreeable concourse of kindred spirits both in study and recreation. As we look into your faces now for almost the last time, we recall pleasant associations with you on the ball field, in the recitation room, long walks and excursions through leafy forest and grassy field. … Let these pleasant recollections fill our minds, and, although sorrowful as the time of separation draws near, yet we will be gladdened by the thought that we part from each schoolmate as friend parteth from friend, regretfully.”

One hundred and 30 years ago, the Class of 1882 had their photograph taken at the entrance to the Third Academy. It was destroyed by fire on February 21, 1891.

In speaking of the fire that destroyed the Third Academy building in 1891, he said, “Is it any wonder, then, that Kimball Union has achieved such a reputation in the past, when those who were her former pupils, scattered now throughout the length and breadth of this broad land, offering themselves freely in the service of their country, or engaging in uplifting their fellow-men, have reflected such glory upon the old academy on Meriden Hill, now –alas!-no more??”

And of the opening of Baxter Hall in the final months before their Commencement, he spoke these final words, “It now behooves us then to perform our daily task in such a manner that we may add credit to this renowned institution, rather than detract from its fame … the outlook for its future was never brighter. Formerly its reputation was limited; now its fame is national. Its friends everywhere call to us to be steadfast and true. It is in our power to make the reputation of the new Kimball Union greater than even that of the old.”

After graduating from KUA, Isaac Cox went on to Dartmouth College, class of 1896, and later earned a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1904. He spent much of his life as a history professor first at the University of Cincinnati and later Northwestern University.


Next Time: Cyrus S. Richards retires after 36 years as principal of KUA.