Westminster School (Connecticut)

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Westminster School
Westminster Crest.jpg
Virtute Et Numine
(Grit and Grace)
995 Hopmeadow St, Simsbury, CT 06070
Type Private, Boarding
Religious affiliation(s) None
Established 1888
Faculty 86
Enrollment 390
Color(s) Black and Gold
Mascot The Martlet
Rival Avon Old Farms (Except Football)

Westminster School is a small, private, highly selective boarding school located in Simsbury, Connecticut.[1]


Westminster School was founded by William Lee Cushing in 1888 as a boys' school in Dobbs Ferry, New York.

In 1900, as enrollment increased, Mr. Cushing moved the school to its current location in Simsbury, Connecticut. The land had been donated through a trustee of the school, Arthur M. Dodge, a member of an old Hartford family. Williams Hill, the new site, offered more than 230 acres (0.93 km2) with commanding views of the Farmington River. It also provided train service for students to New York and Boston, a boon to families from those areas.

A graduate of Yale University and a firm believer in the traditional form of English boarding school education, Mr. Cushing was strongly influenced by the Reverend Edward Thring, headmaster of Uppingham School in England.

In the early 1970s, Westminster School opened its doors to day students. In 1971, girls were admitted for the first time as day students and in 1977 as boarding students. Like many boarding schools, Westminster faced difficult times in the 1970s as it competed for a shrinking pool of boarding students led by Headmaster Donald Werner (appointed in 1972). When Werner retired after nearly twenty-five years, he left a thriving school for successor Graham Cole. With Cole's retirement in 2010, Westminster appointed William V.N. Philip as its eighth Headmaster. Philip ascended to the top job after a 26-year career at Westminster as a teacher, coach, dorm-master, college counselor, and most recently Associate and Assistant Headmaster.[2]

Faculty and staff[edit]


  • William Lee Cushing (1888–1920), first headmaster and school founder[2]
  • Lewis Pettee (1920–1922), namesake of one of the school's two gymnasiums
  • Raymond McOrmond (1922–1936), namesake of a faculty home
  • Arthur Milliken (1936–1956), namesake of one of the school's dorms
  • Francis Keyes (1956–1970),[3] namesake of the Admission and Development building
  • Donald H. Werner (1970–1993), namesake of the Centennial Center, home to most of the arts on campus
  • W. Graham Cole, Jr. (1993–2010), namesake of the school's library
  • William V.N. Philip (2010 -)[4]

Student activities[edit]


Westminster offers a sports program in one non-competitive and fifteen interscholastic sports.[citation needed]

Sport Season Boys/Girls Competitive 2011-2012 Record
Cross Country Fall B/G Yes V. Boys: 2-3; V. Girls: 0-4
Field Hockey Fall G Yes V. Girls: 12-4
Football Fall B Yes V. Boys: 5-3
Soccer Fall B/G Yes V. Boys: 1-10-2; V. Girls: 6-5-2
Basketball Winter B/G Yes V. Boys: 4-14; V. Girls: 4-16
Ice Hockey Winter B/G Yes V. Boys: 14-10-3; V. Girls: 17-5
Martial Arts Winter B/G No currently inactive
Squash Winter B/G Yes V. Boys: 18-2; V. Girls: 10-6
Swimming Winter B/G Yes V. Boys: 8-3; V. Girls: 1-10
Baseball Spring B Yes
Golf Spring B/G Yes
Lacrosse Spring B/G Yes
Softball Spring G Yes
Tennis Spring B/G Yes
Track and Field Spring B/G Yes

Many students' favorite tradition is stickball, a game in which teams made up of dormitory floors and day student teams compete in a baseball-like game on the quad and athletic fields in late spring. Each floor makes its own bat, usually a hockey or lacrosse stick that has been cut, or a wooden dowel of a large diameter. Generally the stickball "season" will culminate in a single-elimination tournament to crown the Hill Stickball champion.


Theater has always been an integral part of the Westminster experience, dating back to when Headmaster Cushing's son wrote and directed productions each winter before he launched a very successful career as a Broadway producer. The theater program at Westminster offers students the opportunity to experience all aspects of theatrical performance and production in the theoretical setting of the classroom and the practical arena of department productions.

Each year the theater program stages three productions in the Werner Centennial Theater: one dramatic production spanning the varied genre of Western theater, a musical production, and the student-directed one-act plays, which offer advanced students the opportunity to direct. Each of these productions offers many opportunities for student involvement and leadership, both on stage and backstage.[5]

Campus Facilities[edit]


  • Cushing Hall - 1900 (originally named Main Building)
  • Memorial Hall - 1928 (remodeled in 1998)
  • Squibb House - 2013
  • Gund House - 2013
  • Milliken House - 1973
  • Edge House - 1996

Academic / Arts Facilities

  • Hamilton Art Studios (houses studio art and architecture classrooms)
  • Werner Centennial Center & Theater - 1989[6] (houses theater, dance studios, practice rooms, and scene shop)
  • Armour Academic Center - 2009

Athletic Facilities

  • Pettee Gymnasium
  • Jackson Hockey Rink
  • Hovey Field - 2012
  • Kohn Squash Pavilion - 2001
  • Sherwin Health and Aquatic Center - 2005
  • Michelini Field and Brooks Family Track
  • Osborn Baseball Field
  • Wilbraham Field, Harrison Field, Sawyer Field, and other multi-purpose sports fields
  • Gow and Haynes Tennis Courts

Other On-Campus Facilities

  • Andrews Memorial Chapel - 1961
  • Timken Student Center

Former Buildings

  • Hay Chapel - 1909-1961
  • East Cottage - unknown-2008
  • Baxter Academic Center - 1964-2009


Notable alumni include:


  • A seventh season episode (713) of the MTV show Made was filmed over three June days on Westminster's campus. It was the episode where the spoiled girl, Katrina, tried to become a soccer player.[7]
  • In the 1990s the Centennial Theatre Festival was held in the summer on campus.[8][9]
  • Cole Porter attended many early Westminster dramatic productions at Simsbury's Casino.
  • Before becoming coed, Westminster performed their dramatic productions with girls from The Ethel Walker School, including Oscar-nominated actress Sigourney Weaver.


  1. ^ "Westminster School Profile | Simsbury, Connecticut (CT)". Boardingschoolreview.com. 2013-10-28. Retrieved 2013-11-17. 
  2. ^ a b "Westminster School History". Westminster School website. Accessed 23 March 2012.
  3. ^ Francis Keyes, a Headmaster at Westminster School, Dies. New York Times, Dec 13, 1981; p.54.
  4. ^ "Westminster School ~ bill philip william philip headmaster". Westminster-school.org. 2010-07-01. Retrieved 2013-11-17. 
  5. ^ "Westminster School ~ Theater". Westminster-school.org. Retrieved 2013-11-17. 
  6. ^ Anderson, Grace. "Theatrical romance." Architectural Record 178.n9 (August 1990): 90(2).
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ [2][dead link]
  9. ^ Festival in Simsbury. New York Times, Jun 15, 2003; p.CT7.

Further reading[edit]

  • Rinker Buck. Enrollment Shift Could Burden Farmington Valley Towns: From Private to Public Schools. Hartford Courant, 25 Mar 2009.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°53′13″N 72°47′48″W / 41.8869°N 72.7968°W / 41.8869; -72.7968