Foxcroft Academy is an independent high school founded in 1823 on the principle that knowledge is power. Foxcroft Academy is committed to providing students from central Maine and beyond a rigorous college and career preparatory academic curriculum designed to produce informed and active global citizens. Foxcroft Academy will furnish all students with the underlying skills needed for post-secondary success while embracing its safe community and natural environment.
Foxcroft Academy was established as a private secondary school on January 30, 1823, and became the first school to be chartered after Maine became a state. The school was named for Colonel Joseph Ellery Foxcroft, who had purchased one of the five townships granted to Bowdoin College by the Massachusetts General Court in 1794. The name of the township was later changed to Foxcroft.
Upon receiving its charter, the legislature stipulated that the Academy must have in its possession funds of at least $1500. In 1823, the town’s appropriations for all municipal purposes amounted to a mere $1140, and neither the State nor its municipalities provided funds for secondary education. The funds therefore had to be generated through the philanthropic concerns of Trustees and local residents.
In the spring of 1823, while it was still located in the Dover schoolhouse, James S. Holmes taught the first term for the newly established Foxcroft Academy. During these early days, Foxcroft Academy was known as a “poor man’s college” because it brought to the pioneer families an opportunity for higher education. John Glover, in his History of Foxcroft (1964), records that the Academy in Foxcroft “figured much during the nineteenth century in the development of secondary education in the eastern region of the United States.”
The first Academy building, located on the lot adjacent to the Congregational Chapel, was finished enough in 1825 to enable the holding of classes, Charles P. Chandler being its first preceptor. By 1843, the Academy had 130 pupils, making for crowded conditions, and thought was given to erecting a new building.
In 1859, the first Academy building, being no longer adequate, was removed to the north end of Foxcroft Bridge, and in 1860, a much larger building was constructed. For the next three decades an increasing number of students from Foxcroft and the outlying regions attended the Academy.
In 1903, the town of Dover discontinued its public high school and began paying tuition to Foxcroft Academy in order for their students to attend the Academy. This move increased student enrollment by one-third and made the enlargement of the building absolutely necessary. In 1904, through the generous gift of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Mayo in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Josiah Mayo, a new three-story structure was added to the front of the old school building. Upon its completion in June of 1905, it was noted as one of the best-equipped schools in the State of Maine.
By the beginning of the twentieth century, Foxcroft Academy was on the approved list of several colleges, including Brown University, Boston University, Bowdoin College, Dartmouth College, Smith College, University of Maine, Mount Holyoke College, Amherst College, Wesleyan University, Wellesley College, Colby College, and Bates College. In 1924, it was noted that Foxcroft Academy was “one of the few fitting schools in the State of Maine whose graduates are admitted to the New England Colleges on certificates without examination.”
By 1924, the Academy had grown to an enrollment of 210 students, and there was talk of the need for additional classroom space, a gymnasium, and an “auditorium built in theater style” to be used for “music classes, plays, rehearsals and class meetings.”
In 1941, with enrollment now reaching 250 students, Louis Oakes of the class of 1892 deeded to the Trustees of Foxcroft Academy the Oakes Farm on the Guilford Road in Foxcroft. The work on a new school was financed largely by Mr. Oakes and other members of his family, with contributions also coming from Trustees, local citizens, and alumni of the school. The building was opened for classes in February of 1952 and dedicated in August of that year.
A new gymnasium in 1960 was made possible by gifts from alumni, friends, and local business enterprises with a large gift being contributed by Lady Eunice Oakes. An industrial arts building was begun in 1973, as well as the remodeling of the main classroom building with additional library and classroom space and the creation of the business educational wing. Theses projects were completed and used for instruction at the beginning of the 1974 school year. After two years’ use of temporary space for classes, construction was begun in 1986 on a new six-classroom wing and music room, and in August 1988 this new wing was dedicated. This last project was financed by a loan for $1.2 million, due to be paid off in the year 2014.
Throughout the 1990s, the continued philanthropic support from Trustees, faculty, parents, alumni, and community members have provided for such needs as five networked computer labs, renovations to the library, and the Burton N. Packard Center for Forestry Management. On October 17, 1998 the Trustees publicly launched Securing the Tradition, a $2.25 million capital campaign to make important improvements in the facilities at Foxcroft Academy. These improvements were made necessary by an increasing student population, an aging building, and expanded student co-curricular and athletic participation.
Trustees contributed more than $420,000 of personal gifts to this effort while faculty, staff, and administration made gifts totaling more than $80,000. Dr. Frederick Hutchinson, President Emeritus of the University of Maine and alumnus of the class of 1948, served as chairman of the campaign. The campaign successfully concluded in 2001 having raised more than $2.4 million. This capital campaign effort expanded the kitchen and created a new dining hall, the Pride Manufacturing Student Center, the Philpot Multimedia Computer Lab, two new foreign language rooms, the Eberstein Art Center, and the Ames Consumer and Family Science Lab. It also provided new windows to the main academic building, expanded and upgraded the locker room facilities, and built a new 400-meter, 8-lane competition track.
In the near future, the Trustees are looking to increase the endowment from its current $3.8 million to $12-15 million in order to protect the future of Foxcroft Academy.
A long list of illustrious names testifies to the success Foxcroft Academy graduates have achieved in various fields. There have been numerous graduates of the Academy who have achieved distinction in the fields of law and medicine. One such graduate was Dr. Mary Chandler Lowell of the class of 1881, who was the first woman in the world to have earned the degree of Doctor of Medicine, Bachelor of Law, and Doctor of Jurisprudence. Others from Foxcroft Academy have distinguished themselves as missionaries, members of congress, poets, a college president, teachers, college professors, a newspaper editor, an ambassador, and executives of major corporations.
194 years since its founding, Foxcroft Academy exists as one of only nine remaining (from an original 122) private academies that serves the public trust as part of its mission. Today Foxcroft Academy is proud to have an enrollment of more than 450 day and boarding students from 16 Maine communities and up to 15 different nations. Students at Foxcroft Academy can choose from more than 150 different course offerings. This extensive curriculum represents the core liberal arts requirements, college preparatory courses, advanced placement courses, vocational/technical courses, and a newly-added alternative education program.