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The question of a free grammar school in Fryeburg was first agitated by Rev. Wm. Fessenden, D. D., the first gospel minister settled in town. Through his efforts such a school was established in 1791, and was held in a little building at the foot of Pine Hill where fifty pupils were gathered. The year following Rev. Mr. Fessenden, Rev. Nathaniel Porter, David Page and Jas. Osgood of Conway; Moses Ames, Jas. Osgood and Simon Frye of Fryeburg, and the preceptor of the school, Paul Langdon, were made the trustees of Fryeburg Academy by an act passed that year incorporating the institution. The General Court also made a grant of 12,000 acres of land for its support.
The first meeting of the board of trustees was held March 3d., when Rev. David Little of Kennebunk, Rev. Paul Coffin of Buxton and others were chosen on the board and the former was elected president. Paul Langdon was retained as preceptor at a salary of £52 annually, the school remaining under his charge during seven years of prosperity. Daniel Weston and John P. Thurston each taught one term in 1799, after which Mr. Langdon returned for a short time. In November Rev. Mr. Fessenden, the tutelary saint of the institution, filled the chair for a few weeks until January 1802, when the services of a young college man were secured. This was the famous Daniel Webster whose services at the Academy from January to September were of the most inspiring character. He boarded at the newly erected Oxford House and spent much of his spare time profitably as register’s clerk. Upon his resignation he received a special vote of thanks from the board of trustees for honorable and faithful work. The next instructor was Amos Jones Cook. The school soon outgrew its humble home and in 1806 a large new building was erected on the site of the present Academy, a mile from the old building, on land donated by Robert Bradley. This was a fine two story edifice surmounted by a bell tower in which was hung the first bell in town. Mr. Cook remained with the school until 1833, during which time he gathered a museum of curios which was the largest in the state. Following his long and successful term of service, two schools were maintained for about one year. These were soon united and the school continued successfully under various preceptors. On May 26, 1850, the school building was burned, but the school sessions were continued in the Congregational vestry until the present building was erected, dedicated Aug. 31, 1853. To principal G. H. Ricker belongs the credit of establishing the present course of study and the annual graduation exercises.
On Aug. 17, 1892, was held the centennial celebration of the founding of this institution which has so ably assisted in the education of many men of prominence and power. Another celebration was observed Jan. 1, 1902, upon the centennial anniversary of the coming of Daniel Webster as preceptor. There are now two dormitories connected with the Academy, the head master’s house also used as a domitory and two recitation buildings aside from the main Aced- emy building. The average attendance is about one hundred students.
In 1888, Albert F. Richardson, now principal of Castine Normal School, was succeeded as head master by J. E. Dinsmore. In 1892, John C. Hull became preceptor, remaining until 1895, when E. R. Woodbury, now principal of Thornton Academy, came to take charge of this school. Five years later he was succeeded by Charles G. Willard, A. B., the present head master. During the two school years from 1903 to 1905, E. L. Adams was in charge.
The faculty now numbers eight. Mr. Willard is instructor in History, Psychology and Greek; Walton T. Henderson, A. B., sub-master, Sciences and Athletics; Sarah L. Willard, Preceptress, Latin, Botany and Pedagogy; Susan M. Walker, English and Literature; Elsie P. Thayer, Stenography and Commercial work; Alice A. Stearns, A. B., Mathematics, French and German; Benj. T. Newman, Manual Training, Drawing and Painting; Albert M. Abott, Piano, Organ and Harmony.
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