Moses Brown School

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Moses Brown
Moses Brown School in Providence RI.jpg
Original building of the Moses Brown School campus, ca.1819
Providence, RI

41°49′59.2″N 71°23′54.36″W / 41.833111°N 71.3984333°W / 41.833111; -71.3984333Coordinates: 41°49′59.2″N 71°23′54.36″W / 41.833111°N 71.3984333°W / 41.833111; -71.3984333

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Type Private
Religious affiliation(s) Quaker
Established 1784
Head of school Matt Glendinning
Faculty 216
Enrollment 771 total
Average class size 11 to 15 students
Student to teacher ratio 8:1
Campus Urban, 33 acres (130,000 m2)
Color(s) White and Navy Blue
Athletics 30 sports
Mascot Quaker
Moses Brown School
Location 250 Lloyd Ave., Providence, Rhode Island
Area 30 acres (12 ha)
Built 1819
Architectural style Colonial Revival, Second Empire
NRHP Reference # 80000088[1]
Added to NRHP July 24, 1980

The Moses Brown School is a Quaker school located in Providence, Rhode Island, founded by Moses Brown, a Quaker abolitionist, in 1784. It is one of the oldest preparatory schools in the US.[2]


Moses Brown (1738–1836) was a member of the Brown family, a powerful mercantile family of New England. Later on in his life, Moses converted to the Religious Society of Friends and went on to become a pioneering advocate of abolition of slavery in the US while starting the Moses Brown School.


First meeting place of the school from 1784-88 in the Portsmouth Friends Meeting House

In 1777 a committee of New England Yearly Meeting took up the idea for a school to educate young Quakers in New England. The committee, which included Moses Brown, was part of an effort within Quakerdom to promote their faith to the next generation. Brown wanted to ensure that when they reached adulthood they would be able to make a living[citation needed].

The school opened in 1784 at Portsmouth Friends Meeting House in Portsmouth on Aquidneck Island, which was the administrative center for Yearly Meeting, and which had historically been heavily Quaker. However, by the 1780s it was an isolated location, and in the years after the American Revolution it was difficult to recruit both students and teachers. Four years later the Yearly Meeting decided to close the school "for one year", in June 1788; the school remained closed for over three decades.[3]

During those years, Moses Brown worked to restart the school, and, as treasurer of the school fund, was able to convince the Yearly Meeting to reopen the school – in part by donating a portion of his farm located in Providence, Rhode Island for the school to be built on.

The school reopened in 1819 in Providence under the name "The New England Yearly Meeting Boarding School." Moses Brown then joined with his son Obadiah and his son-in-law William Almy to pay for the construction of the first building, which still serves as the main building of the school. Obadiah Brown also left $100,000 in his will to the school, a sum unheard of at the time for a school endowment or gift. In 1904 the school was renamed "Moses Brown School" to honor its benefactor and advocate. It offered an "upper" and "lower" school for "younger boys".[4]

As the Quakers were early advocates of gender equality, Moses Brown School was a co-educational school. However, in 1926 it became a boys-only school as was the fashion in U.S. society at the time. As attitudes again became more liberal, it again became coed in 1976. Well-known faculty over the years included the twin Quaker educators Alfred and Albert Smiley in the mid-Nineteenth Century[[5]] and noted children's author Scott Corbett in the 1960s. "Moses Brown School: A History of its Third Half-Century" by Bill Paxton, who was an English teacher at Moses Brown, covers the school's history during the period 1919-1969.[[6]]

As of 2013 the school was owned by New England Yearly Meeting, with its own Board of Overseers, and operated independently of the yearly meeting. The school was examining the possibility of changing its specific affiliation while still retaining its identity as a Quaker school.

The school made headlines during the January 2015 nor'easter when Headmaster Matt Glendinning released a music video called "School Is Closed", in which he parodied "Let It Go" from Frozen.[7]


  • 33 acres (130,000 m2) on Providence's East Side
  • Collis Science Center- Upper School science complex on the ground floor of Friends Hall. These facilities provide two lab/classrooms each for biology, physics, and chemistry, lab prep rooms, a faculty resource room, and smart boards, wireless tablets, and Internet access.
  • Dwares Family Student Center- Provides upper school students with areas for quiet study, student leadership meetings, clubs, activities, and informal gatherings with friends and faculty.
  • Krause Gallery- Exhibiting works of artists in residence and visiting artists.
  • Hoffman House and Lubrano Science Classroom- These middle school facilities house three science labs, classrooms, breakout spaces, meeting areas, and faculty/advisor offices.
  • Fischer Ricci Family Instrumental Music Center- Provides ensemble room and practice suites.
  • Waughtel-Howe Field House- indoor track, basketball courts, Physical Therapy center, weight and training room, men's and women's locker rooms, coaches' offices, and the Athletic Hall of Fame.
  • Campanella Field- Campanella Field was converted to a FieldTurf artificial turf field during the winter and spring of 2006 to 2007. This is the same FieldTurf that numerous professional teams play on. It is home to the Football, Field Hockey, Girls and Boys Lacrosse and Boys and Girls Soccer teams at both the Upper and Middle School level. The FieldTurf replaced AstroTurf which was first installed in 1965. Moses Brown was the very first athletic facility in the United States to install Chemgrass, later called AstroTurf.
  • Milot Field- Athletic fields belonging to Moses Brown School in Rehoboth, Massachusetts.

Notable alumni[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Staff (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Rayner Wickersham Kelsey, Centennial history of Moses Brown school, 1819-1919 (Moses Brown school, 1919) pg. 50
  4. ^ "Moses Brown School". The Independent. Jul 6, 1914. Retrieved August 1, 2012. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Rhode Island School Parodies 'Let It Go' In Elsa-Fied Snow Day Announcement". Huffington Post. January 27, 2015. 
  8. ^ "A History of Swan Point Cemetery". Swan Point Cemetery. Retrieved March 26, 2014. 
  9. ^ Vincent "Buddy Cianci", Jr., David Fisher, Politics and Pasta: How I Prosecuted Mobsters, Rebuilt a Dying City, Dined with Sinatra, Spent Five Years in a Federally Funded Gated Community, and Lived to Tell the Tale pg. 10
  10. ^ "'A Girl in the Race'? Sue Minter Weighs a Run for Governor". Seven Days. Retrieved September 11, 2015. 
  11. ^ Moses Brown School: "More than two thousand members of the MB community were on campus Oct. 17-19 for MB Expo, a celebration of play, passion and purpose" retrieved May 26, 2014

External links[edit]