Lenox School for Boys — Lenox, Massachusetts

Posted by DaveSanders | Massachusetts | Posted on September 13th, 2010

Spring Lawn Mansion
Lenox School for Boys was opened in 1926 on Kemble St. in Berkshire County, Lenox, Massachusetts. From the beginning, the administration and faculty were concerned not only with academic excellence, but with the character of the boys placed in their care. In addition to keeping up with their studies, each boy was expected to contribute to the operation of the school, whether that meant mopping floors or maintaining the grounds. The school housed grades 9-12, but used the English system of “forms” rather than grades.

The motto of the school was “Non Ministrari-Sed Ministrare”, Not To Be Ministered Unto But To Minister (more commonly translated as Not To Be Served, But To Serve.)

The first headmaster of the school was Rev. G. Gardner Monks. Rev. Monks served until 1946, when he was succeeded by Rev. Robert L. Curry.
Lenox School Alumni ApparelAthletics was a big part of Lenox School’s student life. Lacrosse, skiing, tennis, football, soccer, sailing, fencing and squash were all played at one time or another, but hockey was the undisputed king of sports. Hockey used to be practiced on a frozen pond on the Lenox School property. Whenever it snowed, the students had to shovel the pond before they could practice.

Lenox School for Boys closed in 1971, amid growing financial difficulties that were plaguing many New England private schools. For the most part, the buildings still stand today. After the school closed, it was owned for two years by the Bordentown Military Institute, who operated it jointly with Fox Hollow School as the Bordenton-Lenox School. It was later bought by Bible Speaks, then sold to the National Music Foundation, and was more recently purchased by Shakespeare & Company. The 70,000 sq. ft. hockey rink is now the home of the Production and Performing Arts Center and the Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre.

Friends of Lenox Donate Pew End to Trinity Chapel
Lenox School pew end at Trinity Chapel
[In 1937, the “friends of Lenox School” donated a pew end to the chapel at Trinity College, a men’s college about 70 miles from Lenox in Hartford, Connecticutt. We wondered why they were making the donation and why they chose Trinity chapel. The following is the result of our research. If you have any corrections or additions to our info, please leave a comment, below.]

Rev. Dr. William G. Thayer was a great friend and mentor of Lenox headmaster Rev. G. Gardner Monks. Rev. Thayer was the long-time headmaster of St. Mark’s School and Rev. Monks had been one of his outstanding students. They worked together on several projects over the years. Indeed, Rev. Thayer appears to have been the driving force behind the founding of Lenox School.

At some point, he had been asked to write a report on the state of private schools in New England. The report solidified a concern he had often encountered as headmaster of St. Mark’s. Many bright, industrious, energetic boys were being turned away from private schools because of finances or circumstances. He envisioned a school where boys could be educated based on merit rather than the wealth and connections of their families. Working with the Protestant Episcopal Church of New England, Lenox School was opened in 1926. The obvious choice for headmaster was his protege, Rev. Monks.

When Rev. Thayer died in 1934, his standing in the church and in people’s hearts was apparent, as witnessed by the list of attendees at his funeral. It was attended by the presidents of such schools as Harvard, Yale and Trinity College and by hundreds of clergy and former students.

The “friends of Lenox” wanted to create a lasting memorial to the man who had done so much for Lenox School, the Episcopalian Church and, really, anyone with whom he came into contact. The president of the Lenox School Board of Trustees was Dr. Remsen B. Ogilby, president of Trinity College and long-time friend of Rev. Thayer. Dr. Ogilby had overseen the building of the chapel at Trinity College in 1932. He and Rev. Monks recognized the opportunity to pay tribute to their great friend by dedicating one of the chapel pews in his honor.

The pew end was carved by J. Gregory Wiggins, who had done all the other carving in Trinity Chapel. It was unveiled at the 5 o’clock vespers on May 23, 1937. The original plan was for the Lenox upper classmen to tour the Trinity College campus and inspect the new pew end, but since the entire faculty made the trip, it is also possible the entire student body attended the ceremonies. The presentation of the pew end was made by Rev. Monks and Dr. Ogilby made an acceptance speech and presented the blessing.

In addition to the Lenox School crest, the carved pew end depicts a scene of St. Martin (patron saint of Lenox) sharing half his cloak with a shivering beggar at the gates of Amiens. It incorporates the lion of St. Mark on the armpiece (representative of Dr. Thayer’s beloved St. Mark’s School) and a hockey player on the finials (representing Lenox School’s favorite sport.) The general background is intended to be suggestive of the hill in the Berkshires on which Lenox School is located. The pew end may still be found at the chapel at Trinity College. As you face the altar, it is located on the left side of the aisle. It is the front pew in the second section of pews.

[If you’re steady-handed, you may be able to find the pew in this virtual tour of the Trinity College Chapel.

Notable alumni (from wikipedia article Lenox School for Boys)
Robert C. Seamans, Jr., Secretary of the Air Force under Richard Nixon
John Allen Gable, (1961), executive director of the Theodore Roosevelt Association until his death
Lucien A. Hold, (1965), a comedy-club talent booker and manager who helped discover and promote the early careers of New York comedians Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld and Adam Sandler.
Kirk Scharfenberg, (1961), a distinguished journalist who worked for the New York Times and the Boston Globe. He shared the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for Journalism given to the Boston Globe for “Local Investigative Specialized Reporting”. He was also famous for an editorial of March 15, 1980, under the headline: “Mush from the Wimp”. This referred to a proposal by then President Carter. The headline was inadvertently included in a printed edition of the Globe.
Robert L. Crosby, (1961), a Swift Boat captain in Vietnam, where he died, was a friend of presidential candidate John Kerry.
Clifton O. Dummett, (1961), a dental professor at LSU who helped integrate the New Orleans Yacht club, now deceased. He was a known for his dental lectures on pediatric dentistry.

Miscellaneous Mentions of Lenox School on the Web
Lenox Reunion Apparel
Oral History Project, Interview with Dr. Robert Seamans. A former Lenox student talks about his impressions of Lenox School and his relationship with Rev. Monks.
Skiing workouts at Beartown State Forest.
Photos from the 2006 Lenox School Reunion.
Photos from the 2008 Lenox School Reunion.
Miscellaneous old and new Lenox School photos.
1966 graduation photos.
Old photo postcards of Lenox, MA, including St. Martin’s Hall.
Some more recent photos in and around Lenox School on Flickr.
A 2009 article about Shakespeare & Co.,current residents of the Lenox School grounds.
Aerial map showing location of Shakespeare & Company
History of the Town of Lenox
History of the Berkshire Country Day School who occupied parts of the Lenox School campus from time to time.
Massachusetts: A Guide to Its Places and People mentions “The Lenox Boys School, a group of fine, yellow-painted clapboarded buildings with extensive grounds…”
A short history of the Spring Lawn Mansion, home of Lenox School for Boys.
Lenox School was bought by the Bordenton Military Institute.
In Labrador Doctor: My Life with the Grenfell Mission, Dr. William Anthony Paddon tells of his days at Lenox School between 1926 and 1931.
In his book Wooden Boats: In Pursuit of the Perfect Craft at an American Boatyard, Michael Ruhlman recalls the one term he spent at Lenox School for Boys before “dropping out and heading for Texas.”
As of this writing, 2 copies of the 24-page pamphlet Lenox School: “Not to Be Served But to Serve”, by Rev. Robert L. Curry were available at Amazon.com.
Lenox School yearbooks and memorabilia on eBay.
A portion of the Lenox School grounds is now the home of the Kemble Inn.
Google Street View of Lenox School grounds from Kemble Street.

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We are still working on this page. There is much more to be added. PLEASE send us your memories of Lenox School. It will make this post much more enjoyable for other alumni.

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3 Responses to “Lenox School for Boys — Lenox, Massachusetts”

  1. Just visited the Lenox School and upon my arrival home had to find a history of the place. Very intriguing and educational. Could not help but see the hockey rink building and upon reading about hockey as a campus mainstay was beckoned back to times past. A wonderful visit to an unexpected place.

    • James P. (Jamie) Sullivan says:

      Michael, I attended Lenox in 67-69. I was expelled in what at the time was a big deal. I was a prefect and captain of the football team. Oddly, I am also a retired Army 0-5. Let me know how to get in touch with others from my generation. Jamie Sullivan

  2. Michael Caney says:

    Hi Jamie so after leaving Lenox what is the rest of the story? Where did you ultimately graduate from high school? From college? how and why the United States Army? Active duty or Reserve? What branch? Where did you end up settling down? looking forward to your comments. Best, Mike

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