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Rowland Hall has observed a handful of different anniversaries during the past 50 years, which has left some in the community confused about the math behind our sesquicentennial celebration. They might remember celebrating 125 years not too long ago, and wonder: how and when did 1867 become the date we cite as the school's founding?
According to Head of School Alan Sparrow, the decision to adopt 1867 as the official founding date happened in 2008. School staff conducted in-depth research in order to write a history book for the school in 2005, and discovered information that strengthened the ties between the founding of St. Mark's in 1867 and Rowland Hall in 1880. Beloved teacher Tony Larimer—though retired from teaching—voiced his support for adopting 1867, and after significant discussion, the Board of Trustees and school administration agreed.
The school's history has many milestone dates to consider, but the key founding dates are:
- 1867: The Episcopal Church founded St. Mark's Grammar School, which enrolled both boys and girls.
- 1871: The church started a sister school for girls, aptly named St. Mark's School for Girls.
- 1880: Mrs. Benjamin Rowland made a large gift that enabled the church to move the growing girls school to a new campus—the future site of the Avenues Campus. They named the school Rowland Hall in honor of the family's generosity.
- 1896: St. Mark's School (for boys) closed in support of the state's public education system.
- 1956: St. Mark's School (for boys) reopened.
- 1964: Rowland Hall and St. Mark's merged into one school again.
While some celebrations and campus signs previously used 1880 as a founding date, "Rowland Hall can continuously trace our history and traditions back to the founding of St. Mark's in 1867," Mr. Sparrow said. "Although the names and locations of our buildings changed several times over the past 150 years, the spirit and mission of the school—to provide students both an excellent education and the foundation for strong character—has not wavered."
Also of note: in conjunction with the 2008 Strategic Plan, Rowland Hall decided to shorten its name and drop the hyphenated "St. Mark's" from all printed and digital materials. Susan Koles, director of marketing at the time, acknowledged that most students and parents in our community already used "Rowland Hall" colloquially to refer to the school, and thus it made sense to simplify. However, our legal name remains "Rowland Hall-St. Mark's," as graduates may notice when they receive their diplomas.