Oakwood Friends School

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Oakwood Friends School
Main Building at OFS.jpg
Coordinates41°39′20″N 73°55′37″W / 41.6555°N 73.9269°W / 41.6555; -73.9269Coordinates: 41°39′20″N 73°55′37″W / 41.6555°N 73.9269°W / 41.6555; -73.9269
School typeBoarding and day
CEEB code334625
PresidentBob Bomersbach
DeanSara Sandstrom
PrincipalAnna Bertucci
Head of schoolCharles Cianfrani, Jr.
Average class size15
Student to teacher ratio1:8
Campus size66 acres
Color(s)   Orange and green
Athletics conferenceHudson Valley Athletic League
SportsSoccer, cross country, volleyball, basketball, tennis, softball, baseball, ultimate frisbee
AccreditationNew York Yearly Meeting
NewspaperOak Leaves
Endowment$3 million

Oakwood Friends School is a college preparatory school located at 22 Spackenkill Road in Poughkeepsie, New York, United States. With roots going back to Nine Partners Boarding School, founded in 1796, it is the oldest co-educational boarding and day school in New York state.[1]

Nine Partners School[edit]

Nine Partners Boarding School, 1820

In 1794, the New York Yearly Meeting appointed a committee of twenty-five to establish a school; their first meeting was on January 13, 1795. On May 1 of that year the New York Yearly Meeting purchased a house and ten acres from Joseph Mabbet, a Quaker from Connecticut, for 1600 pounds, a down payment of 214 pounds was made from the donors, Tripp Mosher, Isaac Thorn, William Thorn, Joseph Talcott, Shadrach Richetson and Jonathan Deuel. With plans of opening a school for the children of nearby Quaker families, it opened on December 20, 1796, and was given the name Nine Partners School in Mechanic, which is now in South Millbrook, New York.[2] This was the state's first co-educational boarding and day school. The school's first superintendent was R. Tripp Mosher, and its first principal was Jonathan Talcott, a children's book publisher. The school had a total of one hundred students: 70 boys and 30 girls. The children were between the ages of seven and fourteen years old for girls, and up to age fifteen for boys.

A teacher at the school was Jacob Willets,[3][4] one of the first pupils its opening day of the school. He became the head teacher in 1806 and taught until 1828. He was the author of an arithmetic text, a geography text and an atlas, textbooks which were highly recommended and extensively used throughout the academic day. His wife Deborah, also a former pupil, became a teacher of grammar and mathematics. They were head teachers together and contributed to the school's success during its early years.[5]

Another teacher and former pupil was Lucretia Coffin Mott, who entered the school at age thirteen in 1806 and graduated in 1810. While there, she met teacher James Mott, son of one of the founders, whom she married in 1811. Lucretia later led abolition and women's suffrage campaigns as well as working as a teaching assistant.

Around that same era, a notable student of the school was Daniel Anthony,[6] who would one day become the father of Susan B. Anthony, another famed early pioneer of women's suffrage.[7]

Friends Academy and Oakwood Seminary[edit]

In 1853, the school and its land was sold to a private party who kept it until 1863. In 1857 the New York Yearly Meeting was eager to open a boarding school in Union Springs in central New York. On September 1 of that year a property southwest of the town of Auburn was purchased for $9,842. The first day of classes was May 11, 1858, with grades 1-12, with only four boarders and twenty day students. At this time the school was officially known as Friends Academy.[8] On March 23, 1876 the school officially changed its name to Oakwood Seminary, however the first unofficial reference to the school's name as Oakwood appears in 1863.[8]

Main Building in Union Springs, 1905

On January 2, 1917, a fire damaged the upper levels of the main building, prompting the Board of Managers to consider the school's future. It wad decided that due to the fire damage, coupled with declining enrollment, that the school would relocate. In 1920, the school purchased the 75-acre Coleman Farm in Poughkeepsie, New York. The final graduation at Oakwood in Union Springs was held in June 1920. It was estimated that in its 62 years of existence in Union Springs the school saw over 3,500 pass through its doors.[8]

Oakwood School[edit]

Its first day of operation was on September 28, 1920, with a total of 112 students in grades 1-12. About 58 were Quaker. Although proper buildings were not ready on its opening day, the school was quickly reorganized to comply with the regulations of the state.[9]

The large racehorse stables were converted into the main building, with the upper floors as the girls' dormitory. The stairs between the floors were yet to be built, with wooden ramps for the first months of school. The doors had no knobs. The meeting room, as it is now known, was called the Assembly Room, and was nearly completed in the first year of school in 1920, until it was released that the room violated a building code which caused them to drop the floor several inches, explaining why the windows are up so high. The Assembly Room was redone in 1965, renamed to the Meeting Room, and benches were constructed. It wasn't until 1994 that the Meeting Room was remodeled with carpet and laminate flooring.[10]

In the summer of 1920 a two-story structure began to be built, but there were not funds to complete it, so they used two army barracks from the first world war and attached them to both sides of the preexisting building. This was described in a 1921 article in the Oakwood Bulletin: "As temporary quarters for boys, two army barracks have been secured and are to be joined to a permanent, bell-built center. This will contain boys' dormitories, apartments for teachers, and a large reading room for the boys, in addition to toilets, showers and lavatories." The two army barracks were transported to the campus by train from Massachusetts, the school having purchased them directly from the US Government.[11]

The first building built during the school's operation was Lane Auditorium, begun in March 1923. It was announced that the building would be named for Aaron H. Lane, the president of the board of managers. The building was completed in the autumn of 1924 but the school could not afford both plumbing and electricity in the building at that time. The building last served as a gym in 1959 when it was converted into what was called the Fine Arts and Student Recreation Center. The name quickly changed back to the Aaron H. Lane Auditorium and was used only as a theater thereafter.[11]

Main building, 1930s

The campus began to grow in the coming years. In 1927 a faculty cottage was built on the north side of the dining hall, and it also served as the infirmary. In 1928 the Gulley House was purchased and renamed Henderson Cottage, which housed students. That same year the cottage later known as Craig Cottage was given to the school. In 1929 the boys' dormitory called "The Boys Barracks" was renovated and two wings replaced the old army barracks. The building could house 64 boys and all single male teachers. Also that year, the Wallace Dempster Williams Library was established, and opened in early 1930 in the Main Building. That year, cement pathways were constructed, and the school discontinued the front hay field to construct athletic fields.

Despite the school having purchased their campus from a former farm, they still maintained the property as such. In 1931, the school had "six cows producing 75 qts milk per day, ten pigs, sixteen head of sheep and twelve lambs." The pigs and lambs were cared for by students and sold at the end of each year. In 1934, Oakwood made great strides to accept the school's first African American student. Enrolled as an eighth grader, he went on to graduate in 1938.Twenty years after the move to Poughkeepsie, the school underwent a major renovation that significantly changed the exterior of the main building.[11]

Main building, 1960

In 1946 the school celebrated the 150th anniversary of the opening of Nine Parnters Boarding School. To mark this occasion, a grand celebration was organized from November 9 to November 11, 1946. There were several speakers over this three day celebration, the most notable of whom was First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt who spoke in A. H. Lane Gymnasium on the third day. Other speakers included Dorothy Canfield Fisher and a telegram from former president Herbert Hoover was read. The celebration concluded with a meeting for worship service in Nine Partners Meeting House in Millbrook. Principal William Reagan noted, "Many changes have taken place in this community and in this nation in the intervening 150 years. Unchanged, however, is the need for education and the spirit in which Nine Partners' (now Oakwood) school was founded. In answer to this need and hand in hand with the original spirit, Oakwood school has grown greatly in its first century and a half. Its home community - as well as the administration and alumni - expects the next 150 years to show comparable progress at Oakwood.” The event also began a fundraising campaign to construct a girls’ dormitory on campus and to pay off the mortgage on the property.[8]

Collins Library, 1990

In 1952 the first wing of the new girls' dormitory was built. In 1956 the final wing was completed and a dedication ceremony named the building, Craig Hall in honor of Ruth E. Craig who had served as the assistant principal for 33 years (1923-1956). In 1959 the gymnasium was built and dedicated to board members Ralph Connor and his family. The former gymnasium was renovated that same year into the school's theater. From 1961-1963, three boys' dormitories were built on campus. In May 1963 a dedication ceremony took place naming the dormitories: Reagan Hall in honor of former principal William J. Reagan; Newlin Hall in honor of long-time teacher and administrator J. Curtis Newlin; and Taylor Hall in honor of long-time teacher and athletic director Paul Taylor. During the 1960s the school's enrollment rose significantly. In 1967 it had its peak enrollment total at 210 students.[8] In November 1967 a fire began in the Old Boys Dormitory and Classroom Building. The building was evacuated and no injuries were reported. However, the building was destroyed and the Board of Managers decided not to rebuild it. Instead, in 1968 plans to build two smaller classroom buildings began. In 1970, the two classroom buildings were completed and a dedication ceremony took place naming the buildings Stokes and Crowley, in honor of teachers Martha Crowley and Ida B. Stokes. During the 1970s the school's enrollment fell, resulting in financial difficulties. By the early 1980s enrollment began to steadily increase. In 1988, construction on the new library began. In 1990 the building was completed and a dedication ceremony took place naming the library, Collins Library in honor of alumnus Robert Collins '48. At the ceremony, Poet Laureate and Alumni, Mark Strand '52, was the keynote speaker. In 1997, the new math and science building was completed. In 1999 it was dedicated in honor of former Board President, Robert Turner and his wife Sue.[8]

Under the Lighting the Way Campaign a series of significant improvements to the school's campus began in 2014. Starting with the renovation of the first floor of the Main Building and in 2015 the school unveiled a two-acre solar array field, making it fully sufficient on renewable energy. In 2020 the fifth grade program was added to the school's middle school program.

In September 2021 the school celebrated its 100th anniversary at its Poughkeepsie location.


Sport Level of play Season Gender
Soccer V, JV, MS Fall Boys, girls
Volleyball V, JV Fall Girls
Badminton Fall Co-ed
Cross-country V Fall Co-ed
Basketball V, JV, MS Winter Boys, girls
Fitness program Winter Co-ed
Martial arts Winter Co-ed
Softball V Spring Girls
Ultimate frisbee V, JV Spring Co-ed
Tennis V Spring Boys, girls

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable faculty members[edit]

Heads of school[edit]

  • Joseph Talcott, 1796-1801
  • Alexander and Phebe Brown, 1801-1802
  • Isaac and Ruth Hallock, 1802-1803
  • James Mott, Sr.
  • Reuben and Phebe Howes
  • Jacob and Deborah Willets, 1806-1828
  • Benjamin and Mary Griffin, 1828-1842
  • William G. Slade, before 1839
  • Jarvis and Lydia Congdon, 1844-1857
  • Enoch G. Dorland, 1857-1858
  • Josiah D. Chase, 1858
  • Ezra and Jane Willets, 1858-1860
  • William J. Beal, 1860-1862
  • Egbert and Martha Carey, 1862-1863
  • Thomas and Mary Burgess, 1863-1864
  • Frank S. Hall, 1864-1866
  • Henry K. Pinkham, 1866-1867
  • George Sisson, 1867-1868
  • Jacob and Lucy Vining, 1868-1869
  • Elijah Cook, 1869-1889
  • Charles H. Jones, 1889-1894
  • Isaac Sutton, 1894-1895
  • Elijah Cook, 1895-1897
  • H. A. White, 1898-1899
  • Jonathan Dickinson, 1899-1900
  • Thomas H. Chase, 1900-1901
  • Francis N. Maxfield, 1901-1903
  • Samuel H. Hodgin, 1903-1905
  • Walter Hallock Wood, 1905-1915
  • Eliezer Partington, 1915-1916 (interim)
  • William J. Reagan, 1916-1948
  • Joseph B. Shane, 1948-1950
  • William W. Clark, 1950-1956
  • Charles W. Hutton, 1956-1962
  • Thomas Purdy, 1962-1968
  • John D. Streetz, 1968 (interim)
  • John D. Jennings, 1968-1973
  • David L. Bourns, 1973-1979
  • Theodore Lehmann, II, 1979-1980
  • Clark McKercher Simms, 1980-1988
  • Robert R. Coombs, Jr., 1988-1991
  • Stephen Waters, 1991-1992
  • Lila A. Gordon, 1992-2000
  • Peter F. Baily, 2000-2015
  • Charles Cianfrani, Jr., 2015-[57]


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  2. ^ "Dutchess County Historical and Genealogical Record Chapter 1". genealogytrails.com.
  3. ^ "Key to Willetts' Mental and Practical Arithmetic: Solely Designed for the Use of Teachers". Internet Archive. 1841.
  4. ^ "Home of Jacob and Deborah Willetts". New York Historic.
  5. ^ "History of Washington, NY". rays-place.com.
  6. ^ "The Underground Railroad in the New York Hudson Valley « Fergus Bordewich: The Imperfect Union". fergusbordewich.com.
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  8. ^ a b c d e f Alson and Irene Van Wagner Archives Room materials
  9. ^ Frost, J. William (1996). "Reviewed work: Quaker Crosscurrents: Three Hundred Years of Friends in the New York Yearly Meetings, Hugh Barbour, Christopher Densmore, Elizabeth H. Moger, Nancy C. Sorel, Alson D. Van Wagner, Arthur J. Worrall". Quaker History. 85 (2): 60–62. doi:10.1353/qkh.1996.0016. JSTOR 41947332. S2CID 162141114.
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  15. ^ Adam and Anne Mott, by Thomas Cornell, 1890 pp. 77
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  20. ^ "Wanda Campbell - Hidden Rooms - Confederation Poets - Canadian Poetry". canadianpoetry.ca. Archived from the original on 2017-12-23. Retrieved 2015-04-15.
  21. ^ a b "Guide, George Aaron Barton Papers (UPT 50 B293), University Archives, University of Pennsylvania". upenn.edu.
  22. ^ a b "JUSTICE F.L. YOUNG DIES AT AGE OF 69 - Member of Supreme Court Succumbs in Ossining to Acute Indigestion.ON BENCH FOR 14 YEARS Was Republican Leader in the Assembly When Former Governor Smith Was Speaker". The New York Times. 1930-05-22. Retrieved 2016-02-05.
  23. ^ a b c Oakwood Friends School Archival Collection
  24. ^ Oakwood Seminary Alumni Files, 1925
  25. ^ "Q&A with Author Becky e. Conekin on Book "Lee Miller: A Life in Fashion"". 19 November 2013.
  26. ^ https://naarb.org/interviews/Simkin-89.PDF[bare URL PDF]
  27. ^ https://ucf.digital.flvc.org/islandora/object/ucf%3A22412/datastream/OBJ/view[bare URL PDF]
  28. ^ "Clark V. Poling". Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation.
  29. ^ School records
  30. ^ "MacCracken, Henry Noble (1915 - 1946) - Archives & Special Collections Library - Vassar College".
  31. ^ Oakwood School Student List, 1938-1939, listed with student Constance
  32. ^ Poughkeepsie Sunday New Yorker , July 26, 1959 - Newspaper Article
  33. ^ "MotionGenesis: Senior Consultant Thomas Kane".
  34. ^ Student lists, 1947-1949 OFS Archives
  35. ^ Obituary in Oak Leaves, winter 2019-2020
  36. ^ "MARY MCHENRY Obituary (1933 - 2021) - Washington, DC - The Washington Post". Legacy.com.
  37. ^ OFS archives
  38. ^ "Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mark Strand dies at 80". The Poughkeepsie Journal. Associated Press. 30 November 2014.
  39. ^ a b "JONATHAN TALBOT - REFERENCE POINTS - Oakwood Friends School". Talbot1.com. Retrieved 2016-02-05.
  40. ^ "Steven Vogel, Class of 1957 - Oakwood Friends School". Classmates.com. 2000-10-08. Retrieved 2016-02-05.
  41. ^ a b OFS Archives
  42. ^ "The Carolina times. (Durham, N.C.) 1919-current, June 15, 1968, Image 1 · North Carolina Newspapers".
  43. ^ "PATSY NORVELL Obituary (2013) - New York, NY - New York Times". Legacy.com.
  44. ^ "Americana Awards: Levon Helm celebrated; Bonnie Raitt honored for lifetime achievement", Poughkeepsie Journal, September 13, 2012.
  45. ^ "Oakwood Friends School Welcomes Juan Williams '72". October 6, 2009. Archived from the original on February 2, 2014. Retrieved January 22, 2014.
  46. ^ "Annie Finch – Poet. Writer. Performer". Anniefinch.com. 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2016-02-05.
  47. ^ "Billy Manas".
  48. ^ Keith Bunin, "From the Writers’ Picket Lines: ‘I Hate That I’m on Strike", Beliefnet, November 15, 2007.
  49. ^ Records at Oakwood Friends School
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  54. ^ "ACCCC: Bio > Jones, Rufus Matthew". yale.edu.
  55. ^ "University Archives :: Hargrett Library :: University of Georgia Libraries". uga.edu. Archived from the original on 2 December 2008. Retrieved 13 October 2015.
  56. ^ "Clipped from Poughkeepsie Journal". Poughkeepsie Journal. 14 March 1973. p. 15.
  57. ^ "Head of School Announced". Oakwood Friends School. October 25, 2015. Archived from the original on December 8, 2015. Retrieved December 8, 2015.

External links[edit]