Kents Hill School

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Kents Hill School
Kents Hill, Maine 04349
United States
Coordinates 44°24′16″N 70°00′08″W / 44.4045°N 70.0022°W / 44.4045; -70.0022Coordinates: 44°24′16″N 70°00′08″W / 44.4045°N 70.0022°W / 44.4045; -70.0022
Type Private, Boarding
Motto One man or woman of principle can always make a difference.
Religious affiliation(s) Methodist
Established 1824
Headmaster Christopher S. Cheney
Grades 9–12, PG
Enrollment 245
Student to teacher ratio 6:1
Campus Township, 400 acres (160 ha)
Mascot Husky
Kent's Hill School Historic District
Kents Hill School.jpg
Bearce Hall
Area 8 acres (3.2 ha)
Built 1873 (1873)
Architect Francis H. Fassett
Architectural style Italianate, Queen Anne, Colonial Revival
NRHP reference # 79000149[1]
Added to NRHP April 26, 1979

Kents Hill School (also known as Kents Hill or KHS) is a co-educational independent college-preparatory school for boarding and day students. Kents Hill is located in Kents Hill, Maine, 12 miles west of the state capital of Augusta. It is the 30th oldest boarding school in the United States and one of the oldest continuously operating co-educational college preparatory schools.[2] One of the three oldest Methodist academies in the United States (with Cazenovia and Wilbraham), the school is now a member of the Association of Independent Schools in New England (AISNE) and accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC).



Kents Hill was founded in 1824 as the Maine Wesleyan Seminary[3] by Luther Sampson, a Duxbury, Massachusetts native and a veteran of the American Revolution. According to an early publication of the Kents Hill Breeze, a defunct school periodical, Luther "was of the fifth generation in lineal descent from Henry Sampson, one of the Pilgrim band that landed on Plymouth Rock, December 22, 1620."[4] A carpenter[5] who had not had a formal education, Sampson wanted to use the wealth he had earned in his profession and the government-granted assignment of land he earned as a Colonial soldier to benefit society and to glorify God. Sampson, his wife Abigail Ford, and their children lived in Duxbury and, later, Marshfield, before relocating to over two hundred acres in Readfield, Maine, around the turn of the century.[4] In 1821, Sampson incorporated there the "Readfield Religious and Charitable Society," whose original charter contained no mention of a school, but rather laid a plan to support area Methodist belief and practice. Sampson deeded the society over one hundred acres of land on Kents Hill.

Original building of Maine Wesleyan Seminary with 1836 addition

Failing financially and seeking a more efficacious means of performing his mission, by 1823 Sampson had begun to explore the possibility of changing the society's identity into one rooted in the education of youths.[4] Together with Elihu Robinson, a carpenter-schoolmaster in the nearby city of Augusta, and his wife, they opened the Seminary in order to better society through education. Boys and girls appeared on the school's roster from the day the school opened.


Later headmaster, Dr. Henry P. Torsey, oversaw the construction of Sampson Hall which was opened in 1860 and is still serving students today. Dr. Torsey also opened a female collegiate institute - the "Female College" - one of the first of its kind to offer degrees to women at the time. Dr. Torsey is also credited with introducing baseball to the school in 1861.

Bearce Hall was completed in 1873. James G. Blaine, who later served as Secretary of State under President Benjamin Harrison, donated a bell for the bell tower, both of which become important school symbols. To this day, the bell is rung to celebrate school victories and important occasions. During the next fifty years, the school added a conservatory of music as well as a working farm.

Early school seal depicting Luther Sampson's journey to Readfield and school motto, Deus viam indicavit

During the Second World War, Headmaster Bill Dunn inaugurated a ski program next to nearby Torsey Lake. The students cleared the land, and Kents Hill established an alpine racing program that endures to this day. The O'Conner Alpine Center boasts alpine racing and snowboarding facilities, complete with digital timing, night lights, snow-making equipment, and a ski lodge.[6]

Beginning in 1990, Headmaster Rist Bonnefond oversaw further expansion of the school, its programs, and its facilities. In addition to growing the school's curriculum to include 12 Advanced Placement programs, the school added an Environmental Studies program and graduation requirements. Since 1998 the school has added several new buildings and outdoor areas, including the Liz Cross Mellen Ski Lodge, the Alfond Athletics Center, the Hansen Quadrangle, the Colhoun Plaza, the Williams Woodworking Studio, Reed Hall, and several new faculty residences. Davis Hall, the Alpine Center, and Bearce Hall have all been updated and renovated.

In the fall of 2008 the school opened the Harold Alfond Turf Fields,[7] one of the largest turf field complexes in New England.

In 2009, the Bodman Performing Arts Center opened in the renovated Newton Gym.

In 2012, the Waters Learning Center was renamed the Akin Learning Center and a new campus facility opened to house the school's Learning Skills Program.

Historic register[edit]

The school was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. Five buildings were included: Newton Gymnasium (1932), Blethen Hall (1883–84), Bearce Hall (1873), Ricker Hall (1893–94), and Sampson Hall (1858–60). Francis H. Fassett, Maine's leading architect in the middle of the 19th century and an important figure in the rebuilding of Portland after the 1886 fire, designed Bearce and Ricker halls.[8]


The student-to-faculty ratio at Kents Hill School is 6:1, with an average class size of 11. 85% of the faculty live on campus.

Kents Hill offers a college-preparatory curriculum on a trimester schedule: Fall, Winter, and Spring. Curricular offerings include 14 Advanced Placement courses and honors-level courses available in most academic disciplines.[9] Kents Hill offers independent study options for direct-guided coursework outside of its course prospectus offerings. Kents Hill also provides a three-level ESL curriculum for non-native English speakers.[10]

The school currently offers exchange programs with four international schools: Kent College Pembury, Tunbridge Wells, England; Montaigne School, France; Colegio Estudio, Spain; and Bishops Diocesan College, Cape Town, South Africa.[11]


Kents Hill School was voted "Best Private School in Maine" in 2013 and 2014 by Down East, The Magazine of Maine.[12] In 2003, the school received the Siemens Foundation Award for Advanced Placement programs in math and science.[13] In 2007, social studies teacher, David Pearson, was awarded a Harvard Singer Prize for Excellence in Secondary School Teaching.[14]


The athletics program offers varsity, junior varsity, and non-competitive athletics in the fall, winter, and spring trimesters. All students participate in a sport each trimester.

Interscholastic sports[edit]

Non-competitive sporting activities[edit]

  • Dance (Spring)
  • Drama (Fall, Winter, Spring)
  • Fitness (Winter)
  • Outing Club (Fall, Spring)
  • Recreational skiing (Winter)
  • Recreational snowboarding (Winter)

Campus facilities[15][edit]

Academic facilities[edit]

  • Akin Learning Center (1979, re-housed in 2012), formerly the Waters Learning Center, is home to the Learning Skills Program.
  • Bearce Hall (1873) is Kents Hill's iconic bell-tower structure. It is home to school Administration (Head of School, Assistant Head of School, Director of Studies, and Dean of Students), Admissions, and Communications, as well as the Social Studies Department, several classrooms, and Deering Chapel.
  • Dunn Science Center (1966) houses Science, Environmental Studies, Mathematics, and Modern Languages Departments.
  • Ricker Hall (1893) houses the English and Performing Arts Departments. Historic Ricker Theater is located on the third floor and the KHS Bookstore and Student Center are on the first floor.
  • Sampson Hall (1860) houses the James R. Cochrane Library, Bass Visual Arts Center and KHS Art Department, and the Technology Department (IT), in addition to student residences and faculty housing.
  • Williams Woodworking Studio

Athletic facilities[edit]

  • The Alfond Athletics Center (2001) contains the Bonnefond Ice Arena (dedicated 2011), the Hawley Gymnasium, a fitness center, and locker room facilities, in addition to housing the Athletics Department.
  • The Harold Alfond Athletic Complex (2008) is a single major, divisible turf field including area designations for football, soccer, field hockey, baseball, and softball.
  • The O'Connor Alpine Training Center offers on-campus alpine racing and snowboarding facilities, complete with lights, snow-making equipment, and digital timing.
  • The Liz Cross Mellon Lodge (1998) sits atop the ski hill.
  • In addition to grass playing fields and tennis courts, acres of woods contain maintained cross-country running, mountain biking, and Nordic skiing/snow-showing trails. All these facilities are not only used by the Kents Hill students but support many clubs and youth athletic teams from surrounding communities.

Performance and Leisure facilities[edit]

  • Bibby and Harold Alfond Dining Commons (2016) — Dining hall; Gruss-Bard Art Gallery
  • Newton Hall (1932), formerly Newton Gymnasium, is home to the Bodman Performing Arts Center, including an auditorium, recording studio, school band practice room, and offices.


  • Davis Hall — Senior and Postgraduate Boys' Residence Hall, with faculty housing
  • Jacobs Hall (1982) — Freshmen and Sophomore Girls' Residence Hall, with faculty housing
  • Reed Hall (2007) — Junior, Senior, and Postgraduate Girls' Residence Hall, with faculty housing
  • Sampson Hall (1860) — Sophomore, Junior, and Senior Boys' Residence Hall, with faculty housing
  • Wesleyan Hall — Freshmen Boys' Residence Hall, with faculty housing

Historic houses[edit]

  • 1821 House (1821) - Faculty family Housing
  • Blethen House (1883) - Residence of the Head of School
  • Jollity Manse - Faculty family housing
  • Maxim House - Faculty family housing
  • Weld House - Faculty family housing

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ "Boarding Schools with the Oldest Founding Date (2017-2018)". 
  3. ^ List of closed, combined, or renamed Maine schools, accessed 2009
  4. ^ a b c J. O. Newton and Oscar Young, Kents Hill and its Makers (1947)
  5. ^ 18th-Century Woodworking Shop a Rare Find, accessed July 7, 2015
  6. ^ New England Lost Ski Area Project, accessed 2009.
  7. ^ Field, accessed 2009
  8. ^ "National Register of Historic Places Inventory—Nomination Form: Kent's Hill School Historic District" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved 2015-03-04.  Photos
  9. ^ Accessed March, 2009
  10. ^ Accessed March, 2009
  11. ^ Accessed February, 2015
  12. ^ Best of Maine Two Years in a Row Accessed January, 2015
  13. ^ Siemens Foundation Award, 2003, Siemens Foundation, accessed in 2009
  14. ^ Harvard Singer Prize 2007, accessed in 2009
  15. ^ "Map of Kents Hill School (includes all buildings)". 
  16. ^ "L.L. Bean and Boarding School". 17 January 2012. 
  17. ^ "Summertime in the Belgrades (July 4 – 10, 2014) — Joseph Cummings Chase: A World-Renowned Artist From Kents Hill". 
  18. ^ "List of Governors of Maine". 17 September 2017 – via Wikipedia. 
  19. ^ "Bibliography: Short Stories by Annie Hamilton Donnell, 1862-". 
  20. ^ "SMART, Ephraim Knight, (1813 - 1872)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved September 26, 2012. 
  21. ^ "The 1996 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Feature Photography". The Pulitzer Prizes. 

All other information is taken from the school's website and publications

External links[edit]