Left: In March 1948, the “Kimball Union Alumni Bulletin” cover featured the succession of class buildings and various additions and renovations.
Our only image of the First Academy (top) is an anonymous artist’s impression, but we know it was a wooden structure with two levels; the first was the classroom and the second held four student rooms. Daniel Kimball had a hand in its construction, as reported in a letter in the school newspaper, “The Kimball Union,” February 1903. According to Chester B. Jordan, KUA class of 1866, a former New Hampshire Governor, “My father was present when Hon. Daniel Kimball was building the First Academy. He said the old gentleman was hauling stone with his old mare hitched to a stone-boat, and laying up the foundation with his own hands. He endowed it living and dying.” In 1824, the building, along with its library, was destroyed by fire, but was soon replaced with a small, brick building, called the Second Academy (middle left).
The Rev. Henry A. Hazen, class of 1850 and a KUA trustee, 1870-1887, wrote in a short biography of Hannah Chase Kimball, that, “She watched over the interests of the schools as long as she lived, with a lively and motherly interest.” As a teacher, both before and after her marriage, Madam Kimball remained interested in education and had long desired to found a Female Seminary. In 1839, at age 81, she came close to fulfilling her dream, having bequeathed $10,000 for her seminary and had building supplies delivered to land a quarter mile west of KUA. At the same time, Principal Cyrus Richards and his trustees had begun to find the Second Academy too small for the growing number of students. They approached Madam Kimball hoping to convince her to unite the two schools into one Academy. Her building, they suggested, could be an addition to the Second Academy, with two separate but equal, Male and Female Departments. Both would be under the leadership of the current Principal and Board of Trustees. She was persuaded, perhaps due to her elderly age and the awesome task ahead of building and organizing a seminary. The cornerstone to the Third Academy (middle right) was laid on May 8, 1839 and an official Female Department opened in the autumn of 1840. Ironically, young women are listed as having studied at KUA from our first year of classes, 1815-1816, onwards, but they were never listed as graduates in the General or Annual Catalogues until two women’s names appear in the Class of 1848, the year after Madam Kimball’s death.
Fifty-one years later, a second disastrous fire destroyed the Third Academy. Baxter Hall, (bottom left and right), now sits on the site of the previous buildings. It was dedicated on June 16, 1892 and in 1921 underwent some renovations, including the removal and replacement of the original bell tower.