14 - Phipps Union Femal Seminary - Sketches of the Village of Albion


About the year 1833, Miss Caroline Phipps first opened a selact school for young ladies and children, in Albion. After one year of unremitting exertion, she found her school had increased beyond the capacity of her house to accommodate it. She invited a few of the most public spirited of her neighbors together and laid before them her plan of founding a permanent Female Seminary, that should supply the wants of her school, and afford a place to educate their daughters, at the same time add largely to the prosperity of the Village. She proposed they should loan to her the funds required to build a proper edifice; that she would erect the building and give her Mortgage upon it, conditioned to repay the loan in a series of years, as she could make the money from her school. As a final inducement to this enterprise, it was suggested the Mortgage so to be given might be sold to raise a fund to build an Academy, for the education of boys, and thus the educational wants of both sexes would be supplied with schools of a high order. The citizens of the Village seemed to prefer that an Academy for boys should be first secured, and to regard the project of a Female Seminary, as proposed, too large for a lady to accomplish. They thought best to delay action awhile at least, and the plan of Miss Phipps was held under advisement. But the ability and energy she displayed, in conducting her school and business affairs, at length confirmed the sanguine, and satisfied the doubtful, that she would prove equal to the responsibility she offered to assume, and in the summer of 1836, they raised by subscription nearly the sum she first required, and placed it in her hands, with which in addition to $3000 of private credit, she constructed a handsome and substantial brick building, four stories high, including the basement, forty by sixty feet square, fitted up as a Boarding School for young ladies, into which her school was removed in January, 1887.

The Mortgage of $3,600, given by Miss Phipps, as proposed, was sold and a fund raised thereby, with which the building now known as the Albion Academy was built.

In the year 1839, Miss Caroline Phipps married Mr. H. L. Achilles, one of the Junior pioneers of Rochester, N, Y. From that time, this Seminary was conducted for several years by Misses Mary and Sophronia Phipps, an elder and a younger sister of Mrs. Achilles. The Institution finally passed out of the Phipps family in 1848, but in the hands of strangers it languished, lost the patronage of the community, and almost came to an end.

To save a pecuniary interest they had in the property, and to try and rescue a cherished Institution from ruin, Mr. and Mrs. Achilles came back to Albion, and took charge of it in the year 1849.

Under the skill and care of Mrs. Achilles, and the energetic supervision of Mr. Achilles, the waning fortunes of the Seminary revived, pupils soon filled its halls, and from that day forward it has steadily advanced in popular favor, until it ranks second to few similar schools in this State,

This Seminary was incorporated by the Regents of the University, in the year 1840, by the name of "Phipps Union Female Seminary," and has since been subject to their visitation.

In 1851, a large wing, two stories high, of wood, was added to the Seminary building, for the accommodation of its increasing number of scholars. The Seminary grounds have lately been enlarged by the purchase of the adjoining lot formerly occupied by Dr. Mills, as a residence; thus affording ample space for garden, and walks for the pupils. Standing on the highest land in the village, the Seminary buildings, and the numerous trees around them, are among the first objects noted by the traveler on entering Albion in any direction. The whole first cost of its real estate was $14000. The Library contains 870 vols., and with the Philosophical and Chemical Apparatus, is valued at $600. The Pianos used cost $1100. The amount paid for Lectures, and Teachers' salaries annually is about $2000.

During the past year, there has been 395 different pupils, with an average daily attendance of about 200, of whom about one half are boarders in the Institution. Number of Classical Scholars, as allowed by the Regents, 317. Amount received from the Literature Fund, by last Report, $605.

The course of instruction in this school comprises all branches of useful and ornamental education usually taught in the best Female Seminaries in this country. An average number of ten Teachers are employed, beside the services of Mr. and Mrs. Achilles.

The present Board of Trustees, are - B. S. Burrows, President; L. C. Paine, Cor. Sec'ry; H. L. Achilles, Treas. and Rec. Sec'ry; H. R. Curtis, L. Burrows, C. S. M'Connell, Zeph. Clark, Lansing Bailey, Ebenezer Rogers, H. S. Goff, Barneul Farr, J. M. Corneil.

An Examining Committee is appointed consisting of the resident Clergymen of the Village, and several other gentlemen, who preside at the quarterly, and semi-annual examinations, and exercise a general advisory supervision over the studies of the pupils at all times. The present Committee, with the Clergymen, are Hon. S. E. Church, Gideon Hard, Alexis Ward, and Arad Thomas.

SOURCE:  Sketches of village of Albion : containing incidents of its history and progress, from its first settlement, and a statistical account of its trade, schools, societies, manufactures, &c. (1853); Arad Thomas; Albion, N.Y.