Darrow School

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Coordinates: 42°27′10.94″N 73°22′58.49″W / 42.4530389°N 73.3829139°W / 42.4530389; -73.3829139

The Darrow School
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110 Darrow Road
New Lebanon,, Columbia County, New York 12125
United States
School typeIndependent, Boarding & Day
OversightBoard of Trustees
ChairpersonRobert W. Kee '71
Head of schoolSimon Holzapfel
Teaching staff31
Average class size8-9
Student to teacher ratio4:1
Campus size365 acres (1.48 km2)
HousesAnn Lee, Brethren's, Hinckley, Neale, Meacham
School color(s)Maroon and white
Song"Simple Gifts"
AthleticsBasketball, Cross-Country, Lacrosse, Soccer, Softball, Tennis, Ultimate Frisbee, Outdoor Education, Alpine Skiing, Fitness
Athletics conferenceHVAL, NEPSAC
MascotDarrow Ducks
PublicationThe Peg Board
Endowment$3 million

The Darrow School is an independent, co-educational college-preparatory school for boarding and day students in grades 9-12 and PG. Its New Lebanon campus is a 365-acre (1.48 km2) property just to the west of the boundary between New York and Massachusetts in the Taconic Mountains and within the Berkshire cultural region.


The school's campus is located at the site of the largest and most industrious Shaker community in the country.[1] Darrow opened in the fall of 1932 as the Lebanon School for Boys. It was renamed "Darrow School" in 1939 in honor of the Darrow family, who settled the land and provided support and leadership in the early years of the Shaker community. In the later part of the 20th century it began to accept female students.

More than a decade before the last of the Shakers left in 1947, they set in motion plans for a school. In 1931 New Lebanon admiralty lawyer Charles Haight was contacted to make their idea a reality. In 1932, the school opened its doors, repurposing many of the original Shaker buildings as classrooms, meeting, dining, and athletic facilities, and dormitories for both students and teachers. Darrow School’s buildings have been well maintained throughout the school’s 83-year history, and although some accommodations have been made for modern living and learning, all renovations have been conducted in consideration of the Shaker principles of simplicity, function, beauty, and stewardship of both the historic site and the earth.[citation needed]

In the late 1980s the school was forced to sell much of its original Shaker furniture to meet budget deficits, and the board of trustees voted to close the school at the end of the school's spring 1991 term. The board reversed their decision after parents, current students, and alumni of the school fundraised over $250,000.

The school currently enrolls about 110 students and employs 31 teachers. Students come primarily from New York and Massachusetts, however, the school has a sizable population from other states as well as countries such as Japan, Jamaica, Turkey, China, and Ghana.

The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) has recognized The Darrow School as a Leading Edge Honoree for its curriculum innovation, specifically in the area of sustainability. The School’s Sustainability Program is an important feature of the academic program and examines the relationship between people and their resources.[citation needed]


The Darrow School is located on Mount Lebanon in the Taconic Mountains, just to the west of the central Berkshires, in New Lebanon, New York. Darrow Road, marked by Darrow School’s sign, turns off of Route 20 seven miles (11 km) west of Pittsfield, Massachusetts and 26 miles (42 km) east of Albany, New York. Darrow is approximately 150 miles (240 km) north of New York City and 150 miles (240 km) west of Boston.

Darrow occupies the 365-acre (1.48 km2) site and buildings of an original Shaker village that has been designated a National Historic Landmark. Darrow has 26 buildings, 4 playing fields, 2 tennis courts, 5 residential dormitories, the 15,000-volume Heyniger Memorial Library (a former Shaker facility originally known as the Second Meeting House), the 12,000-square-foot (1,100 m2) Joline Arts Center (opened in 2002), and a three-building science facility that includes the Living Machine (a natural wastewater treatment and learning center), the Samson Environmental Center. In 2018, the Kurtz Innovation Center was opened in the Science Building, and features curricula and facilities dedicated to technology, robotics, 3D-printing, and more. Renovated in 2018, the largest building on campus, known as the Dairy Barn, comprises the Darrow Theater, the gymnasium and locker rooms, the Dining Room and kitchen, and the Kamenstein Student Center. The building also contains the Performing Arts Center (PAC), a facility that opened in 2015 for studies in music, theater, and film. This space features state-of-the-art technology and learning spaces designed for creative thinking and creative action. The PAC has classrooms, a recording studio, and spaces dedicated to individual practice, collaboration, media review, and post-production. It is where advanced teaching, individual practice, and professional production resources all come together.

The main administration and classroom space, known as Wickersham, was built in 1875 by the Shakers and includes the Admissions Office, classrooms, the Student Health Center, a student and faculty lounge, and administrative offices, including the office of the Head of School. The Admissions Office provides student- and staff-guided tours of the campus and facilities year-round.

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ "Shaker Historic Trail, Mount Lebanon Shaker Society". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-12-14.

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