Andover Hill School by William Phillips
About one hundred and sixteen years ago a small school was started in a
carpenter's shop on Andover Hill. This little school of about twelve
boys was the origin of the great Phillips Academy, which now numbers
about five hundred. Its founder was a certain Judge Samuel Phillips, a
prominent young lawyer and statesman in Massachusetts during the
Revolution. Besides giving much of his own money to the school, he
enlisted the aid of some of his relatives, all of whom were very rich
for those days, and soon had them so much interested in founding schools
that his uncle, John Phillips, started a similar one in Exeter, New
Hampshire, and named it Phillips Exeter Academy.
The little academy in Andover did not long hold its sessions in a
carpenter's shop. It was soon provided with a good building by its
wealthy founder; and, with an energetic principal and a fine set of
boys, many of whom afterwards became famous men, the school flourished
at once, and became widely known.
The location of the school has been shifted about on Andover Hill, for
its buildings were several times burned down. One of them, the Science
Building, is said to have been set on fire by a boy in revenge for
having been severely disciplined. Tradition says that he is still
living. If he should risk coming to Andover now, and could see the fine
new Science Building which replaces the one he destroyed, I venture to
say that his conscience would be immensely relieved.
THE PRESENT GYMNASIUM.
Where Oliver Wendell Holmes went to school.
The present Gymnasium is the old school-house which Oliver Wendell
Holmes attended in his boyhood, and which he has immortalized in his
poem read at the centennial celebration in 1878:
"The morning came. I reached the classic hall.
A clock face eyed me, staring from the wall.
Beneath its hands a printed line I read—
Youth is Life's Seed Time;' so the clock face said.
Some took its counsel, as the sequel showed,
Sowed their wild oats, and reaped as they had sowed.
How all comes back—the upward slanting floor.
The masters' thrones that flanked the master's door,
The long outstretching alleys that divide
The row of desks that stands on either side,
The staring boys, a face to every desk,
Bright, dull, pale, blooming, common, picturesque."
The life at Andover is more like college life than at most schools. The
boys have their rooms in private boarding-houses, or small dormitories
on and near the Hill. Here they do all their studying during day study
hours, and here they must be at eight o'clock in the evening, for at a
quarter before eight the academy bell begins to toll warningly until
five minutes before the hour, when it rings rapidly. This means that
every boy not within walking distance of his home must run, and woe to
him who is discovered lingering on the street after eight!
AN ANDOVER ROOM.
Of course many of the teachers acquire great reputations as eagle-eyed
detectives or lightning sprinters, and traditions are not dead yet of
the hot races that have taken place between belated youths and some
sprinting instructor. Sometimes this pursuer is a real teacher, but
often he is only a boy theatrically made up to represent some dignified
teacher, and who is out for a little exercise. I can remember one
genuine race, when the culprit was discovered skylarking around the
enchanted grounds of the "Fem. Sem." His pursuer, though a heavy man,
and with the worst record in the faculty as a sprinter, maintained a
most lively pace, and the race never ended until our young friend was
dragged, panting and very much scared, from under his bed.
Besides these boarding-houses there are the famous English and Latin
"Commons." These are ranged in rows at each end of the campus or
playground. The houses, which resemble factory cottages, are not
beautiful architecturally; but boys do not care for that usually. These
rooms are very cheap, and are primarily meant for boys who cannot afford
the greater luxury of private boarding-houses. Yet they are very
comfortable, and, from the greater independence and pleasant dormitory
life, many richer fellows are found there.
The life in these Commons is quite like college life. In front of each
row is a low fence, where, as at Yale, fellows gather of a warm evening
and sing songs and have a good sociable time generally. Each boy must
care for his own room; and every Friday noon an inspection of rooms is
made by the faculty, so that beds are made up and clothes put away once
a week at least.
THE ADMINISTRATION BUILDING AND ACADEMY HALL.
The day's work at Phillips begins at 8.10 in the morning, when, after
much tolling and rapid ringing of the old bell, the whole five hundred
boys assemble for prayers in the great Academy Hall, where hang the
portraits of teachers and benefactors and founders of a century back.
Recitations are held during the day until half past four, when all hands
turn out for a good time. Every tennis-court and ball-ground is
immediately more than occupied. The first teams begin to practise on the
campus, the athletic team gets to work on the track, and bicyclers start
off in all directions. Others stroll off for a walk to Indian Ridge, or
the old railroad, or Sunset Rock, or Allen Hinton's. Allen Hinton is the
famous ice-cream man. No one can make better ice-cream than he. Besides
his fame as an ice-cream maker, he is the greatest fox-hunter for miles
around, and his stories of fox-hunting and his experiences in the war
are something worth hearing.
Then "Chap's" is a great meeting-place for those who like eating better
than exercise. Here boys have drunk soda-water and eaten candy and
griddle-cakes, and ruined their digestions for years and years. The
benches and stalls are so thickly inscribed with names that it is
difficult to find room to carve a new one.
Andover has always been noted for its fine athletic teams. The great
rivalry between Exeter and Andover has brought the standard of athletics
up very high, so that college Freshman teams are usually beaten by the
Phillips boys, and even the Yale and Harvard 'varsity teams often have
no easy task in overcoming them.
For many years the great events of the school year have been the
football and baseball games with Exeter. For weeks before the game the
chief topics of conversation are the chalices of victory and the
prospects of this and that man for the team. As the day for the game
draws near, the excitement increases. Crowds watch the daily practice,
and under appointed leaders work up new cheers or practise on the old
ones, so that those who do not belong to the teams have at least a
chance to beat Exeter at yelling.
Finally the great day arrives. Every man in school who owns or can
borrow a couple of dollars has his excursion ticket, and eight or ten
yards of blue and white ribbon with which to decorate his cane, hat, and
button-hole. After the morning recitation the whole school, supported by
half the town of Andover and certain extraordinary mascots, board the
special train for Exeter, gay with flags and ribbons, and noisy with tin
horns. Even the cars and engine are draped with blue.
A "FOOTBALL" COACH.
After reaching Exeter a rush is made for the campus, and a mad scramble
for seats ensues. Those who are fortunate enough to belong to the secret
societies have positions on gayly decked coaches. With Andover men
massed on one side of the field and Exeter men on the other, an
alternate contest of cheering at once takes place, like the Greek
choruses of old. While waiting for the athletes to appear, the
excitement is intense. For real genuine excitement a Harvard-Yale
contest is a dull affair compared with an Andover-Exeter game.
When you are sixteen years old or less, and at Phillips, you don't care
for close games. You want to see your own side make all the runs or
touch-downs possible, and although cheering of opponents' errors is
strictly against school courtesy, yet the more points your own team
makes, and the poorer the other plays, the more you feel like yelling
and waving your cane and slapping your friend on the back and
congratulating yourself that you went to Andover instead of Exeter.
Such a contest as this was the baseball game of '87. About the seventh
inning a mysterious-looking wagon containing something covered with a
canvas drove rapidly across the field and disappeared in the woods
behind. This strange appearance was soon forgotten in the interest of
the game; but the wagon bore the instruments of the Andover Brass Band,
who were concealed in the woods, and whom a loyal citizen had hired in
case of victory. At the end of the game, when all Andover was tearing
madly on the field and bearing off the victors on their shoulders, the
band appeared on the scene in full blare. Every one fell in behind them,
helping them out with tin horns and cries of "Left, left, left, the
Exeter men got left!" And each year some new feature like this is
Then ensues the usual scene after a victory. The entire wild procession
moves to the depot, followed by the chagrined and more or less angry
Exeter men. At the depot, after some friendly scuffling and snatching of
canes and colors for souvenirs, and deafening cheering on the part of
everybody, the special train moves away for Andover, long before
stripped of its blue colors, to supply those who have failed to bring a
ribbon for themselves.
On the train the expressions of joy do not cease. Every brakeman or
conductor who ventures inside a car is immediately put up for a speech.
The brakemen often object, and smash their red lanterns about on the
heads of small boys, who do not mind it in the least. When Andover is
reached, all, tired and hoarse, but happy, make for their
boarding-houses for a rousing supper and a little rest before the
time-honored celebration in the evening. At half past eight this
celebration takes place, and all sally forth, armed with tin horns of
huge proportions. Study hours never count on celebration nights.
According to tradition, the members of the victorious team are drawn
about in a barge by a rope long enough for the whole school. They are
hauled about to the houses of the faculty. Each teacher is lustily
cheered by his popular nickname, and then called forth to make a speech.
After the round of the faculty houses, the whole mob, not a whit less
noisy for all its exertions, retire to the campus. In less than twenty
minutes a mass of oil-barrels and fence rails miraculously appears, and
is heaped to the size of an ordinary barn. After a bath of kerosene oil
a famous fire is set going. All join hands around the fire. The captain
of the team is mounted on the shoulders of two sturdy friends. Every one
gathers himself together for one last shout, and around they whirl in a
wild weird dance. Then the fire begins to die down; it is getting toward
midnight; the faculty begin to flit warningly about; all, tired and
scarcely able to talk, go quietly home, and the great celebration is
This is a sample of what takes place after a victory. After defeat the
town in the evening is silent as the grave, and the depression for
several days is quite appalling. In these games feeling often runs high,
but such things as fights are very rare. At such times Andover and
Exeter men speak disrespectfully of each other, but the chances are that
one's best friends at college may be these very opponents, and perhaps
one likes them all the better for having once done them an injustice.
But Andover does not go in for athletics alone. In their studies the
boys are so well trained that at college they usually take high position
in their classes without any difficulty whatever. For those who are
inclined to literary pursuits there is the Phillipian to try for. It
is issued twice a week, and it is considered a great honor to become a
member of the editing board. Then there is the Mirror every month,
which contains literature of a more solid character. Besides these there
are yearly publications which offer prizes for drawings. The
Philomathean Society, which has held meetings for seventy years, is the
debating society. Those who are sensible enough to join this, and
practise speaking before a crowd, receive a training that helps them
wonderfully all their lives. This society and a flourishing branch of
the Y.M.C.A. are powerful influences in the school. What with the
different prize speakings, the glee and banjo clubs, the track-athletic
and tennis teams, and numberless other organizations, every boy has a
chance to distinguish himself.
Sunday is a delightful day at Andover. The afternoon stroll with one's
best friend in the beautiful country around is perhaps the pleasantest
experience in the week. Boys are obliged to attend church twice on
Sunday, but few of them object to this compulsory attendance, for the
services are conducted in turn by the professors of the Theological
Seminary, all of whom are very distinguished and interesting men, who
never fail to interest their hearers.
The Theological Seminary is situated near the school, and as is always
the case, the men are closer students and more devoted to their work
than are the members of the Academy proper. That does not mean, however,
that they do not join the latter in their social and athletic life. Once
they had a baseball team that could completely demolish the Phillips
nine. Their pitcher, a famous Yale player, was said to be the only man
in the country who could deliver a "snake" curve.
Near Phillips Academy also is situated the Abbot Female Academy. This is
a large girls' school. No uninvited boy is allowed on these sacred
premises, and all intercourse between the two schools is forbidden.
Nevertheless, the stories of midnight serenaders and of encounters with
Pat, the Fem. Sem. policeman, would fill a volume.
Every Andover man loves his school, not only for the fun and scrapes
that he had there, but for the good that he has received from it. Many
of his strongest friendships were formed there, and much of his success
at college and in after-life has depended on the associations made at
school, while those who have not gone to college feel that they gained
at Andover an education by no means scanty.