THE HUDSON ACADEMY
COLUMBIA COUNTY, NEW YORK
By Captain Franklin Ellis152
The Hudson Academy is one of the oldest institutions of its class in the State, and by reasons of its antiquity, its usefulness, and the varying fortunes which it has experienced, it merits a high place in the regards of the people of the county.
On Feb. 17, 1805, there met together in Hudson sixty-four gentlemen who were "impressed with the importance and necessity of diffusing useful knowledge by the establishment of seminaries for the instruction of youth." At this meeting an association was formed and a constitution adopted for the establishment of an institution to be known as "Hudson Academy." The stock was divided into shares of $10 each, and John Swift, Samuel J. Ten Broeck, William Ashley, Ebenezer Rand, William Shaw, Noah Gridley, Benjamin Miller, Luther Dunning, and Asa Frary were appointed a committee to receive subscriptions and to cause a suitable building to be erected. The site selected was "a piece of ground situated on the south side of Hudson Square, adjoining the Burying-Ground, granted by the Mayor, Recorder, and Commonalty of the city of Hudson to John Swift and others for the purpose of having a school-house or Academy built thereon, and also a certain piece of ground conveyed by Seth G. Macy to Ebenezer Rand, John Swift, and their associates for the same purpose, being the rear of the lot conveyed by the Mayor, etc., as foresaid." This description is very obscure, but is intended to explain that a part of the academy site was donated by Captain Seth G. Macy, and the remainder by the common council of Hudson. The "Hudson Square" was the same laid out by the council, May5, 1804, and for which a part of the burial-ground was taken.
The building, a brick edifice fifty by thirty feet, and three stories high, was soon completed, on the present beautiful site overlooking the river and city of Hudson, and commanding an extensive view of the Catskill mountains. The Academy association was incorporated March 3, 1807, the following-named gentlemen being the corporators: Ezra Sampson, John Swift, Reuben Sears, Peter Van Den Bergh, Harry Croswell, Elisha Williams, William W. Van Ness, Timothy Babcock, William Fraser, Peter Van Rensselaer, William Ashley, Luther Dunning, Joseph Mosely, Benjamin Miller, Ebenezer Rand, John Bennett, Noah Gridley, William Shaw, William Whiting, Cornelius Tobey, Ezra Browne, Samuel J. Ten Broeck, William Noyes, Jr., Obed W. Folger.
The teacher whose name is found first recorded on the books of the institution was Andrew M. Carshore, and next the name of Mr. Ashbel Strong is entered as principal, he having been engaged at a salary of four hundred dollars per annum. The young ladies' school connected with the academy was opened May 1, 1806. At the same time, Miss Hayes, daughter of Rev. Joel Hayes, was engaged as preceptress, at an annual salary of $100. The rates of tuition were fixed at four dollars per quarter for higher English, languages, and mathematics, and two dollars for the lower classes; and (perhaps in consequence) but one dividend (fifty cents a share) was ever paid, and the certificates of stock became as valueless as waste paper. The price of good board in the vicinity of the academy was one dollar an fifty cents per week, and those who entertained pupils from abroad became responsible to the trustees for their tuition. The academy was long in a flourishing condition, and among the list of its instructors and graduates are found the names of many who have held prominent positions in various walks of life. For several years prior to 1827, Mr. Amasa J. Parker, favorably known throughout the State, was connected with the academy as principal. He was succeeded by Mr. Josiah W. Fairfield, who was hardly less widely known. With scarcely an exception, every man prominent in public life in Hudson, since the incorporation of the academy, has been in some degree identified with its prosperity, either as pupil or trustee, and its graduates fill positions of honor and trust in all parts of the country.
The present condition of the academy is exceedingly prosperous. The original building has recently been remodeled and embellished at large expense, until, in adaptation of rooms and appointments to educational uses, as well as in beauty and healthfulness of situation, it has few equals in the county. The present building is of brick, size, sixty by thirty-four feet, and three stories in height. The main room used for study is furnished with modern school furniture, and so arranged as to admit just the light which the best authorities have pronounced to be least injurious to the eyes of students. The estimated value of the academy property is $12,000. The cabinets are well furnished, that of natural philosophy having recently been increased by the addition of new apparatus valued at over $600. Apparently, the future of the institution will be prosperous.
The present corps of instructors is as follows: The principal is Rev. William D. Perry, teacher of languages and natural sciences, a graduate of Amherst College in 1870, and of Union Theological Seminary in 1874. He has been further prepared for the responsibilities of his position by two years of travel and study in the principal cities and countries of Europe, and by much previous experience in teaching.
He is ably assisted by Mrs. K. W. Perry, teacher of higher English, who was for many years well and favorably known as one of the most successfully lady principals in the public schools of New York city.
Miss Mary Sleight, who has charge of the mathematical department, is a graduate of De Garmo Institute, and has also studied in France. She has been a successful and popular teacher in the academy since the present principal assumed charge.
A teacher is now provided for every twenty pupils. Vocal music and drawing are free, and other advantages are to be added soon as the finances of the academy will permit. The residence of the principal is near the academy, and pleasant accommodation is provided for young ladies from a distance. Great interest is manifested by the trustees of the academy and by the citizens of Hudson in the prosperity of the institution.