Cornwall Academy

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Cornwall Academy was a non-sectarian college preparatory school for boys located in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, United States, among the Berkshire Hills of western New England. Its founder is John Geddes Moran, an intellectual and compassionate man who acted as headmaster for the life of the institution.

The school ran classes six days a week and there were obligatory supervised study periods in the evenings. Many of Cornwall’s faculty had attended Dartmouth College and among the more memorable was John Gardner Chamberlain, the Deputy Headmaster who also taught history. William Stevenson, who taught English at Cornwall in the 1960s, went on to be the Headmaster of Litchfield Academy in Connecticut.

Cornwall Academy’s curriculum served boys from the first to sixth form (7th through 12th grade) with an additional “post-graduate” year offered if required. The student body itself never exceeded more than 100 boys. The school colors were burgundy and white and despite its small size Cornwall had sporting success in the local private prep school leagues.

The campus was outside the town of Great Barrington and lay along a tributary of the Housatonic known as the Green River. The Headmaster’s residence, Moran House, had one of the few remaining hanging staircases in Massachusetts. Another colonial era structure on campus, the Saint Onge Guest House, was used as accommodation for visitors to the school. It is said to have been the place where the historian William Manchester wrote much of his book The Death of a President.

The campus of Cornwall Academy was once described in Town & Country magazine as one of the most beautiful in New England. The institution lasted from the late 1950s until it was forced to close due to financial difficulties in the early 1980s.


Cornwall Academy was first established in Cornwall, near the Housatonic River and the city of Lltchfield, Connecticut. In 1953, a move was made to Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

I, Charles Washington, was pupil at Cornwall Academy from 1953, graduating as the class valedictorian in 1956.