History

The Peddie Story

Peddie School was founded in 1864 as the Hightstown Female Seminary, a Baptist preparatory school. Later that year, boys were admitted, and the school began a series of name changes. In 1872, the school took its current name in honor of philanthropist and politician Thomas B. Peddie (1808-89), who gave the school a $25,000 gift.

Peddie School remained coed until 1908, when it was decided, for social and economic reasons, to admit boys only. This standard was reversed in the early 1970s, when girls were readmitted. The school is now coeducational and nondenominational.

Wilson Hall (1866-1978) served all the school's needs until 1889, when additional land was acquired and more buildings erected. Peddie's longest-serving head of school, Roger W. Swetland (1898-1934), drew up the master plan to create the central grassy mall.

Gifts from Ambassador Walter H. Annenberg '27 were used for the construction of two libraries, dormitories, and an athletic center, among other projects. The school has grown to include 57 buildings on a 280-acre campus.

In 1993, Annenberg gave $100 million to Peddie, which provided an endowed fund for financial aid, enabling students from every walk of life to receive a Peddie education. The ambassador died in 2002, just after giving the cornerstone gift for the construction of The Walter and Leonore Annenberg Science Center, which was completed in fall 2005.

Since 1864

1864

Hightstown Female Seminary founded

1865

School's name changed to New Jersey Classical and Scientific Institute

1869

Main building dedicated (later named Wilson Hall)

1870

The Chronicle, Peddie's alumni magazine, launched

1872

Thomas B. Peddie gifted $25,000 to the school, which was renamed Peddie Institute in his honor

1878

School goes bankrupt with debts totaling $29,278
 

1889

Last year that the valedictory address is given in Latin

1898

Roger W. Swetland becomes ninth headmaster

1903

First annual football game against Blair Academy

1904

First football victory over Blair

 

1908

School stops admitting girls

1912

Coleman House erected

1916

Former President William H. Taft speaks at Commencement

1917

Of 502 Peddie graduates who served in WWI, 16 are killed
 

1918

First football victory over Lawrenceville Prep in a series begun in 1895

1919

Cum Laude chapter started

 

1923

Name changed to The Peddie School

1925

First classes held in Memorial Hall

1927

Walter H. Annenberg graduates and makes his first gift to Peddie: $17,000 for a new cinder track on the athletic field

1928

Austen Colgate Hall opens

 

1934

Dr. Wilbour E. Saunders becomes 10th headmaster
 

1936

Larry Kelley '33 wins Heisman trophy at Yale

1937

Gold Key Society established
 

1945

Of the 1,891 Peddie graduates who served in WWII, 63 are killed

1949

Dr. Carrol O. Morong appointed 11th head of school

1951

Ayer Memorial Chapel dedicated

1957

Annenberg Library opens; Dr. Martin Luther King speaks in chapel
 

1964

Albert L. Kerr installed as 12th head of school. School centennial; Caspersen Science Building dedicated
 

1967

Masters House opens
 

1970

Female day students admitted, paving the way for full coeducation, Longstreet canteen seized in student protest
 

1972

Athletic center opens

1976

Finn M.W. Caspersen '59 elected chairman of Peddie Board of Trustees

1977

F. Edward Potter Jr. becomes 13th headmaster

1978

Wilson Hall razed

1983

Annenberg makes $12 million gift to Peddie
 

1984

Former President Gerald Ford speaks at Commencement

1988

Annenberg makes $10 million gift to Peddie; Edward Potter dies unexpectedly; Anne Seltzer becomes first female head of school (interim)

1989

Thomas A. DeGray installed as Peddie's 14th head of school
 

1992

Potter Dorms dedicated
 

1993

New Annenberg Library opens; historic $100 million gift for endowment presented by Annenberg

1995

More than 800 Peddie alums, parents, and friends gather at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to celebrate launch of The Next Step capital campaign

1996

Caspersen Campus Center opens

1998

First year of laptop program

 

1999

Ground broken for new dorms, faculty housing, and health center; $1 million annual fund goal announced
 

2001

DeGray retires; John Green takes over as 15th head of school

2002

Fund-raising campaign launched to construct new science center; Lee and Walter Annenberg donate cornerstone gift of $7 million

 

2003

100th football game played against Blair Academy
 

2004

Groundbreaking for Walter and Leonore Annenberg Science Center
 

2005

Dedication of Walter and Leonore Annenberg Science Center, school name changed to Peddie School and new logo created

2006

School launches Peddie Summer Science Institute; Caspersen History House dedicated in September
 

2009

New Peddie aquatic center opened
 

2010

Re-opening of renovated Ian H. Graham '50 Athletic Center

2013

Green retires; Peter Quinn installed as 16th head of school. Peddie celebrates its 150th anniversary
 

2015

DIgital Fabrication Laboratory opens its doors

2016

Kaye and Green Dormitories open

Heads of School

Edgar and Edwin Haas, First Co-Principals, 1865-1868

Edgar (b. 1827, d. 1901) and Edwin (b. 1827, d. 1875) Haas were the sons of a wealthy merchant from Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania. The twin brothers both spent time as teachers, Edgar in the Jones Public School in Lower Merion Township, Pennsylvania, and Edwin in the public schools of Burlington, New Jersey. Many of their former pupils followed them to Hightstown when they were named the first co-principals of the "The Classical and Scientific Institute" in Hightstown, New Jersey, later to be known as Peddie School. According to the Peddie Chronicle from 1916, "Though twins, and very similar in appearance, Edgar and Edwin were of very different personality. One was harsh and severe in his methods, the other gentle and persuasive. Between them, they were able to cope with all kinds of boy and girl nature."

Hiram A. Pratt, Second Principal, 1869-1875

Hiram Alden Pratt (b. 1826, d. 1899) graduated from Amherst College in 1848, and came to the principalship of the New Jersey Classical and Scientific Institute in 1869 after a period in which the school operated without a principal after the departure of the Haas twins in 1868. According to the 1916 Peddie Chronicle, Pratt came to Hightstown "at the earnest solicitation of his friend, Doctor Henry C. Fish, a trustee of the School, leaving a business position in Cleveland to engage in a work for which by natural endowment and previous training he was well qualified."

LaRoy F. Griffin, Third Principal, 1875-1876

LaRoy Griffin (b. 1845, d. unkown) was named by the trustees as the third principal following Principal Pratt's resignation in 1875. Griffin, a graduate of Brown University with a master of arts degree, was a scholarly man and experienced teacher at the Peabody Institute of Natural Sciences and Phillips Andover Academy. He remained in Hightstown only one year, however. Griffin later served for twelve years as professor of physical science at Lake Forest University. (Photo: Nicholas, W.W., “Reverend LaRoy F. Griffin,” Haystack, accessed May 14, 2013, http://haystack.colby-sawyer.edu/items/show/16920.)

E.P. Bond, Fourth Principal, 1876-1877

The Reverend Emmons Paley Bond (b. 1824, d. 1899) became principal after the departure of LaRoy Griffin. Bond graduated from the Connecticut Literary Institute in 1846, and entered Brown University the same year. He graduated from Brown in 1851, and then from Hamilton Theological Seminary in 1853. His first pastorate was in New Britain, and he eventually returned to the Connecticut Literary Institute (now known as Suffield Academy) as its principal in 1865. In 1873, he joined the newly-renamed Peddie Institute as a teacher of Latin, Greek, and "Intellectual and Moral Philosophy." According to "The Peddie School's First Century," by Carl Geiger, "The darkest period in the school's history came during his administration." After a summer of uncertainty, "In September 1877 the school opened with the faculty on hand, but only day students entered. No boarding students reported until the following week. And then, at the end of the first quarter, the trustees voted that the school ... be closed." Bond was released from his principalship, and returned to Connecticut.

E.J. Avery, Fifth Principal, 1877-1881

After the discouraging summer and fall of 1877, it looked as if Peddie's days were over. The trustees had voted to close the school, and all of the faculty and the principal were sent home. But the school's light was not extinguished. "A courageous and heroic figure rose to the occasion -- the Reverend Eleazer James Avery (b. 1815, d. 1881). A.M., who together with the Reverend Dr. William V. Wilson and the Honorable Thomas B. Peddie saved the school." (The Peddie School's First Century, Carl E. Geiger) "Avery graduated from Brown University in 1845, then attended Newton Theological Institution, graduating in 1849. He joined Peddie in 1876 as steward, with his wife as matron. "There was no idea in his mind that he would ever rise to the principalship, but when it looked as though the doors would be closed, he had too much faith, courage, and skill to see the school die." (Geiger) During his brief tenure, Avery brought the number of students from 35 to 135, and left the school in much better shape than he found it. Avery died on September 23, 1881, and was buried in Cedar Hill Cemetery in Hightstown.

John Greene, Sixth Principal, 1882-1889

Reverend John Greene, a graduate of Colgate University, joined Peddie during a period of expansion. During his principalship, much was done to enlarge the field, widen the scope, and perpetuate the influence of Peddie. According to the 1916 Chronicle, "He was a good disciplinarian, an inspiring teacher, and a wise principal who gained and held the confidence as well as the admiration of the Board of Corporators, the teaching faculty, and the entire student body. ... He was greatly missed after his departure from the school and the town; of the former he was an acknowledged leader, and of the latter he was one of its best known citizens." It was during John Greene's administration that Peddie had its first endowment fund through the generosity of Jonathan and Mary Longstreet, who gave $16,000 to build a library. In 1889, Greene left Peddie to become principal of Colgate Academy in Hamilton, New York.

Herbert E. Slaught, Seventh Principal, 1889-1892

Herbert E. Slaught (b. 1862, d. 1937) came to Peddie as a mathematics teacher upon his graduation from Colgate University in 1883 at the age of twenty-one for a salary of $350 a year. He was a brilliant mathematician and became an outstanding teacher. Slaught had been named acting principal when John Greene found it necessary to leave the campus in search of additional funds for the school's endowment, and thus was a logical choice for the principalship after Greene's departure in 1889, despite the fact that Slaught was only twenty-seven. During Slaught's administration, the Longstreet Library and the science building were erected. Enrollment during Slaught's tenure reached the highest point since the opening of the school. He served until 1892, when he left to become an associate professor at the newly-opened University of Chicago. ("The Peddie School's First Century," Carl Geiger)

Joseph E. Perry, Eighth Principal, 1892-1898

The Reverend Dr. Joseph E. Perry was born in Modina, Pennsylvania, and received his early education in Philadelphia. He graduated from Bucknell University, then attended Crozer Theological Seminary, whiere he obtained his Doctor of Divinity degree. Prior to taking on the principalship at Peddie, Perry was the chair of ethics at Bucknell University. During Perry's administration, $100,000 was added to the endowment through the legacy of Mrs. Sarah Ogden Peddie, who died in 1893. Perry also oversaw a period of expansion of the campus, acquiring the Octagon House in 1896 as well as eight acres of land to the south of the campus and the "Peddie Woods." In 1868, Perry resigned to accept a position with the Baptist Board of Home Missions.

Roger W. Swetland, Ninth Headmaster, 1898-1934

The greatest contribution to Peddie's progress during its early years both academically and materially came under the administration of Roger W. Swetland (b. 1861, d. 1934), who served the school for thirty-six years from 1898-1934. Swetland was educated at the Lewisville Academy in Ulysses, Pennsylvania, at the State Normal School in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, and later at the University of Rochester. Then principal of Cook Academy in Montour Falls, New York, in the spring of 1898 Swetland chanced to meet a member of the Board of Corporators at Peddie who mentioned Peddie's need for a new principal and suggested that Swetland apply for the opening. He was immediately chosen. During his administration, Swetland expanded the campus to 240 acres from the twenty-five acre campus he inherited. Enrollment grew from 129 students in 1898 to a yearly enrollment of 350 to 400 students, and Swetland oversaw the change to single-sex education when Peddie became an all-boys school in 1908. Swetland also devised a campus master plan, the result of which can still be seen on today's campus. Swetland oversaw the building of Geiger-Reeves (originally built as a gymnasium, now a theatre), Coleman Dormitory, Trask Dormitory, the Roberson Infirmary (now a dormitory), Avery House, and the largest building project, Memorial Hall (now Annenberg Hall), built in 1923. Other new buildings or acquisitions included Austen Colgate Dormitory, the Ward homestead, Kalomathia House, and Rivenburg House. Swetland was also the recipient of a gift from Walter H. Annenberg, Class of 1927, in the form of a new track.

Swetland's final years at the school saw a return to uncertainty, however, due to the Great Depression. In 1934, Peddie's enrollment dropped to below 200. A personal blow to Swetland was the death of Mrs. Swetland in December, 1932. Following the 1934 Commencement, Swetland was given a diagnosis of advanced cancer, and died on September 15, 1934.

Wilbour E. Saunders, Tenth Headmaster, 1935-1949

Wilbour Eddy Saunders (b. 1894, d. 1979) succeeded Dr. Swetland in 1935, and would lead the school for the next fourteen years. Saundors was born in Warwick, Rhode Island, and graduated from Brown University in 1916. He continued his education at Columbia University and Union Theological Seminary. He came to Peddie with his wife Mildred A. Paige after experience both teaching and ministering several Baptist congregations. When Saunders arrived at Peddie, the school was suffering from the national economic depression and the shadow cast upon it by the death of Dr. Swetland. Soon, however, he increased enrollment, built up faculty salaries, and restored Peddie life to that of pre-Depression days. According to lore, Saunders was athletic and had a reputation for unbounded energy. During his tenure, he enhanced the campus both through property and building acquisitions, and through building projects such as the squash courts and what would become the Mills Memorial Gymnasium. Saunders resigned from Peddie on January 1, 1949, to become president of the Colgate Rochester Divinity School.

Carrol O. Morong, Eleventh Headmaster, 1949-1964

Carrol Oscar Marong (b. 1907, d. 1975) was born in Rowley, Massachusetts, and attended American University and Harvard University. In 1935, he received his B.D. degree from Andover Newton Theological School, and in 1943 earned his Th.D. at Boston University. In 1928, he married Marion G. Mattinson. Three of their four children were married in the Peddie Chapel. Prior to joining Peddie, Marong held pastorships at churches in Massachussetts, Illinois, and New York. During his fifteen years as headmaster, the endowment was substantially increased, and over $2 million was raised for the erection of new buildings and renovation of existing buildings. The Ayer Memorial Chapel was completed during his tenure, as was the Davella Mills Memorial Gymnasium (allowing for the conversion of the old gymnasium to an auditorium). In 1957, the Walter H. Annenberg Library (now Coates-Coleman Hall) was opened. One of his final building projects was the erection of the science building and planetarium, which was completely renovated into the Caspersen History House once the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Science Center was erected in 2006. Morong left Peddie in September 1964, to assume the position of national director of the World Mission Campaign of the American Baptist Convention.

Albert L. Kerr, Twelfth Headmaster, 1964-1977

Albert Louis Kerr (b. 1916, d. 2005) served as Peddie School's headmaster from 1964 to 1977. Born on Sept. 9, 1916 in Lawrence, Mass., Kerr was educated at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., received his bachelor's degree from Yale College and his master's from Harvard Graduate School of Education.

His appointment in 1964 as the 12th headmaster coincided with Peddie's centennial and with the dedication of the Caspersen Science Center, now known as the Caspersen History House. During his tenure, in 1970 female day students were admitted to Peddie.

During Kerr's tenure, a number of facilities were added and enhanced, including the school's largest dormitory, Masters House, given by Walter Annenberg in 1967 to honor his former teachers, the athletic center in 1971 and Kerr Dormitory in 1976. Kerr also presided over turbulent political times and the notorious 1971 student takeover of the canteen in Longstreet. As Bob Dunne '71 of Tulsa, Okla., remembers, "Although he was the archetype of the 'establishment' to us, and reviled because of it, he was an important player in my formative years, and I believe we were also in his."

F. Edward Potter, Jr., Thirteenth Headmaster, 1977-1988

F. Edward Potter, Jr. (b. 1943, d. 1988) thirteenth headmaster of Peddie, served the school from 1977 until his untimely death in 1988 at the age of 45. Potter was an alumnus of St. Paul's School, had a bachelor's degree from Amherst College and a master's degree from the University of Connecticut. He was formerly with the Moses Brown School in Providence, R.I.

During the 2012 Founders Day service, Potter was praised by faculty member Samuel Tattersall and alumnus P.J. Horgan ’84 as a leader who arrived at Peddie at a point in time when both its reputation and finances were in a precarious state, turned the school around and, with the integral help of Walter H. Annenberg '27, set it on a successful course. Quoting Potter as believing, “The more we accomplish, the more we dare,” Tattersall said, “It was almost as if he could see Peddie’s future.” Potter was universally loved by the Peddie community, and deeply loved his school in return. Horgan, speaking directly to the student body, asked that they “Utilize the legacy of Headmaster Potter to understand the foundation he helped build. Remember, this is our house, our family.”

Anne L. Seltzer, Interim Head of School, 1988-1989

Anne Seltzer (b. 1942) has had a long and varied career at Peddie. After receiving a B.A. from The College of Wooster, Seltzer earned an M.A. at Northwestern University in classics. She taught at Northwestern from 1976-79, where she received Teacher of the Year Award. She joined the English faculty at Peddie in 1980, and served as chair of that department and later dean of faculty. After the death of former Head of School Edward Potter in 1988, Seltzer became acting head of school for one year. She was appointed director of development in 1992, and it was during her tenure that the school received the largest gift in its history -- a $100 million donation from Walter H. Annenberg '27. She served as director of development until her retirement in 2003. Currently, Seltzer continues to serve the school as a member of the Board of Trustees. She now consults with a variety of schools and non-profits on fund-raising.

Thomas A. DeGray, Fourteenth Head of School, 1989-2001

Thomas A. DeGray (b. 1939, d. 2015), who served as Head of School from 1989 until 2001, arrived at a school that was vastly different than the Peddie of today. The campus was still reeling from the sudden death of beloved Head of School Ed Potter, and there was significant need for countless renovations of the school's aging physical plant. The school operated with an endowment of six million dollars (compared to approximately $250 million in 2012). Under DeGray's tenure, the school became a state-of-the-art technological campus, instituted the Principio Project, and received the greatest gift in the school's history -- a $100 million gift from Walter H. Annenberg '27 in 1993. DeGray himself was most proud of the increased diversity of Peddie's student body, made possible largely through Annenberg's generosity. DeGray served Peddie until his retirement in 2001.

John F. Green, Fifteenth Head of School, 2001-2013

John F. Green (b. 1959) was installed as Peddie's fifteenth head of school in September, 2001. He received his B.A. from Wesleyan University, and his M.Ed. from Harvard University. A member of the faculty at St. Paul's School from 1986 to 2001, Green served as dean of faculty, history department chair and director of admission. Before that, he taught history and English at Western Reserve Academy and the Fessenden School.

Green hails from a distinguished line of educators; his parents dedicated four decades to teaching in both private and public schools in New York and New England. He is the oldest of four boys, all of whom are teachers. He and his wife, Alison Zaeder, also the daughter of educators, have three children.

A hallmark of Green’s tenure at Peddie has been his ability to remain focused on what is most important to the school: its students, parents, alumni, faculty and staff. As a recent article in the Peddie Chronicle stated, “As he contemplates choices, he remains focused on nearly 150 years of history as well as envisioning the school in ten years, or even 50.”

As a result of the strategic plan Green enacted in 2002, Peddie invested nearly $65 million in major facilities projects including the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Science Center, the Caspersen History House, three new faculty homes, playing fields and the Ian H. Graham ’50 Athletic Center. More resources were invested in the recruitment, professional development, and retention of faculty, with the goal of delivering to the students the most outstanding educational program possible.

In the spirit of Peddie’s motto, when the work of that five-year plan was completed, Green began his work again. He and the Board of Trustees developed another five-year plan. Intentionally building upon Green’s first five-year plan, the Strategic Vision continued to strengthen the places, people, and programs that prepare Peddie students for success. The aquatic center was completed, priority was given to electives in math and science, and the Asian Studies Program began sister school programs in China and India.

Peter Quinn, Sixteenth Headmaster, 2013-

Peter Quinn was appointed to be the 16th headmaster in 2013. His appointment was a homecoming to Peddie, where he had served as a teacher, coach, dorm supervisor, college counselor, and admission director between 1985 and 1996. Quinn oversaw the Peddie admission office in the years immediately following the school's $100 million gift from Walter H. Annenberg '27. He was noted for his focus on Peddie’s mission during the transformative years when the Annenberg scholarship program was created and applications to the school tripled.

Immediately prior to his return to Peddie, Quinn was the headmaster of Wakefield School in Virginia for seventeen years. He is credited with vastly improving the school by increasing enrollment, faculty and staff, acreage, playing fields, and infrastructure. He has also taught at the Hackley School.

Peter Quinn is a son of James H. McK. Quinn, headmaster of The Episcopal Academy (1957-1975), and a grandson of Rev. Albert H. Lucas, headmaster of St. Alban’s School (1929-1949). Two of his siblings are also life-long teachers. He and his wife Maryanne have three children.


150 Faces of Peddie

The 150 Faces of Peddie shares compelling and entertaining stories of individuals, that taken collectively represent the history of Peddie and the faces that shaped it.