A Momentous Occasion in Exeter

by Emily Williams

Emily's essay won the Nancy Carnegie Merrill History Award for the middle school division in April 2013. Emily attends the Cooperative Middle School.

Emily with her teacher, Neal Matthews.
There are many things in Exeter that have some significance in creating the community. Phillips Exeter Academy has attracted people from everywhere because of the great education the students receive there. The academy has benefited the economy of Exeter and surrounding areas. There is a large use of local businesses because of the academy. The academy’s facilities are occasionally used by the town. The Founding of Phillips Exeter Academy is a very important event in Exeter’s history that has a lot of significance in creating the community even today.

Phillips Exeter Academy’s founder was Dr. John Phillips. John Phillips was born on December 27, 1719 in Andover, Massachusetts. He received a great education. His father Rev. Samuel Phillip’s tuition helped him enter college at twelve years old! The college he attended was Harvard University in Boston and he graduated in 1735, at the age of sixteen! He came to Exeter, New Hampshire in 1741. John was a teacher of a Latin school at the time. He started to participate in trading, and he found it very profitable. He became quite wealthy from this and used some of his wealth to donate funds to the development of the Dartmouth College. He and his brother, Samuel Phillips, founded the Phillips Academy in Andover. John wanted to establish an educational institution in Exeter. He was able to complete his goal before his death. Phillips Exeter academy was opened May 1, 1783. He gave the school an endowment of land worth sixty thousand dollars to develop on. At that time that was the largest sum given to an enterprise! He was able to direct almost everything at the academy until his death in 1795.

On February 27, 1970 the trustees announced that the academy will permit girls and become a coed school. At first there were only 39 girls enrolled at the academy, but by the next September there were 128 girls who had enrolled. The population of girls attending the academy increased quickly because by December 20, 1973 the boy-girl ratio was 3:1!

The academy doesn’t just add to the rich history of Exeter, it continues to benefit the small town economically. The academy employs many local residents, from Exeter and the surrounding towns in order to maintain the growing number of students. In recent years the labor force has risen significantly compared to it in 1933, where there was only 143 staff members. The students and faculty have affected the income of local stores and the local economy. In 1941 it was estimated that $500,000 of the money that the staff and students have spent was spent locally. When the families of the students visit they need a place to stay so that often gives business to the local inns and restaurants of Exeter. The expenditures also benefit the town. In 1985, the treasurer of the academy was Colin F. N. Irving. He estimated that the expenditures and the taxes for the year would be $20 million dollars of that $20 million dollars 50% of that would go to Exeter and surrounding areas.

The town of Exeter has benefited from Phillips Exeter Academy in more ways than one. Over the years, the town of Exeter has benefited from the academy because the academy has allowed local teams and organizations to use its athletic fields and gymnasium. Local organization and teams are able to save money because of that. Also the public is often allowed to go to many events such as lectures, concerts, dramatic performances, exhibitions, athletics, and contests.

The Phillips Exeter Academy has provided the town of Exeter with stability for years. With the academy located very close to the center of town the students and faculty have easy access to the local stores and restaurants of down town Exeter. The academy is also a steady employer for the local area and it is the owner of a large amount of real estate in the center of Exeter.

Phillips Exeter Academy has attracted many people to Exeter. Without the academy the town would not be as prosperous as it is now. There would be a lot less people in town and there would be a lot less tourists coming to see the great architecture of the academy. The town would be almost unknown except that it was once the capital of New Hampshire. The academy has remained a prestigious and prosperous part of Exeter that has helped shape the community for 230 years.


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