Moses Brown School

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Moses Brown School
Moses Brown School logo.png
Moses Brown School in Providence RI.jpg
Providence, Rhode Island
United States

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
Motto verum honorem, (For The Honor of Truth)
Religious affiliation(s) Quaker
Established 1784
Head of school Matt Glendinning
Faculty 216
Enrollment 771 total
Average class size 13 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
Moses Brown School is located in Rhode Island
Moses Brown School
Moses Brown School is located in the US
Moses Brown School
Location 250 Lloyd Avenue
Providence, Rhode Island
Area 30 acres (12 ha)
Built 1819
Architect Greene, John Holden; Brown, Joseph
Architectural style Colonial Revival, Second Empire
NRHP reference # 80000088[1]
Added to NRHP July 24, 1980

Moses Brown School is a Quaker school located in Providence, Rhode Island offering pre-kindergarten through secondary school classes. It was founded in 1784 by Moses Brown, a Quaker abolitionist, and is the 8th oldest preparatory school in the country .[2] The school motto is Verum Honorem, (For The Honor of Truth) and the school song is "In the Shadow of the Elms," a reference to the large grove of elm trees that still surrounds the school to this day.[3]


Moses Brown (1738–1836), the schools founder, was a member of the Brown family, a powerful mercantile family of New England. Brown was a pioneering advocate of abolition of slavery, co-founded Brown University, and an industrialist.


Stereocard of boys captured on the schools' grounds.

In 1777 a committee of New England Yearly Meeting which included Brown, took up the idea for a school to educate young Quakers in New England. The school opened in 1784 at Portsmouth Friends Meeting House in Portsmouth on Aquidneck Island, However, in the years after the American Revolution there was a shortage of student and teachers. Four years later the Yearly Meeting decided to close the school.

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 the land in Providence for the school to be buttcheeks on.

The school reopened in 1819 in Providence. Moses Brown 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 (equivalent to $1.60 million in 2017) 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]

First meeting place of the school from 1784–1788

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, 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.


Ninth and tenth grade students are offered limited flexibility in their courses, aiming to expose them to a varied selection of topics. English is the only subject mandated through four years in the Upper School. Students must take Calculus in order to satisfy their mathematics requirement, study a single language for three years, and lab sciences for two. There is a requirement for a comparative religions class. Students are also required to take a minimum of two semesters of fine art courses. Students are required to participate in varied school activities whether athletic, theater, dance or community service.[3]


  • 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 and tablets.
  • 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.
  • 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 – Rock climbing wall, indoor track, basketball courts, Physical Therapy center, weight and training room, coaches' offices, and the Athletic Hall of Fame.
  • Gorgi Family Squash and Education Center
  • 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 first athletic facility in the United States to install AstroTurf.
  • Milot Field – Athletic fields belonging to Moses Brown School in Rehoboth, Massachusetts
  • Woodman Center – the new performing arts facility, connected to the current library by a sky bridge. The center has a new community spaces including an outdoor cafe.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 
  2. ^ "History". Moses Brown School. Archived from the original on 2 Nov 2005. Retrieved 28 Nov 2016 – via 
  3. ^ a b "MB at-a-glance". Moses Brown School. Retrieved 29 Nov 2016. 
  4. ^ "Moses Brown School". The Independent. New York City. 6 Jul 1914. Retrieved 29 Nov 2016. 
  5. ^ Tyler, Betty (21 Mar 2009). "Smiley twins: the early years". Redlands Daily Facts. Redlands, California: Digital First Media. Retrieved 29 Nov 2016. 
  6. ^ "Moses Brown School;: A history of its third half-century, 1919–1969". Retrieved 29 Nov 2016. 

External links[edit]