Encyclopedia Brunoniana

University Grammar School

The University Grammar School was a natural outgrowth of the Latin School opened by James Manning in Warren in April 1764. The Latin School’s purpose was, of course, to prepare students who would be eligible for collegiate education. In 1770 the school moved to Providence along with the college and was for two years housed in the Brick School House. The school and college were related closely enough for grammar school student Billy Edwards, son of Morgan Edwards, one of the founders of the college, to recite a piece from Homer at the close of the Commencement exercises in 1770. In 1772 the Latin School was conducted in the College Edifice. Ebenezer David 1772 was put in charge of the school which had twenty students in 1773. A notice of the opening of a “Grammar School” in the College Edifice was announced on March 11, 1776 in the Providence Gazette, but probably this school’s life was cut short by the closing of the college in December of 1776.

From 1783 to 1792 the Grammar School was conducted by William Wilkinson, first in the College Edifice until 1786, and thereafter again in the Brick School House. The removal in location was accompanied by the severing of the college-school connection. In 1794 the Corporation recommended the establishment of a grammar school “as an appendage to this College.” At some time the school was established and Jeremiah Chaplin 1799, later president of Waterville College, was engaged as master. In 1809 the Corporation voted that a suitable building be erected for the use of the grammar school and appointed a committee to raise the funds needed “to erect the same on the west line of the Steward’s garden.” The cost of the building, erected in 1810, was $1,452.86, which was obtained from 118 persons, with Brown and Ives making up the final amount of $90.30 needed to cover the cost. The two story brick building, located where the Rockefeller Library now stands, was 24 and one-half by 33 feet. The upper story was later used for the lectures of the early medical school.

After a succession of schoolmasters, many of whom served for only a year or two, in 1845 Henry S. Frieze 1841 and Merrick Lyon 1841 joined in the operation of the school. Under their management the enrollment increased enough that in 1852 they made at their own expense a 35-foot addition to the building. When Henry Frieze left for the University of Michigan in 1854, the school was run by Merrick Lyon, who was in charge of the classical department, and his brother, Emory Lyon, who took over the English and mathematical department. In the 35 years that the Lyon brothers operated the school before the death of Merrick in 1888, 200 of their students went on to study at Brown. In 1891 the building provided space for the classes of the first women students. In 1898 the English and Classical School founded by William A. Mowry and Charles B. Goff was merged with the University Grammar School into the University School.