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Fowler Friends Academy

HISTORY OF FOWLER FRIENDS ACADEMY 

The first Friends in the Fowler community were the Nixon Rich and Albert Roberts families, who located there in 1905. Since there was no High School in Fowler and people recognized the need for one, and since it was known that Friends were interested in higher education, these Friends were approached about the establishment of an Academy if a building was provided for that purpose. There being no established monthly meeting at Fowler, these Friends contacted Haviland Quarterly Meeting (the nearest Quarterly Meeting) to establish a Monthly Meeting so the school could have some official connection.  

By this time several other Friends families had arrived in Fowler and in early June, 1906, they met in the yard of the farm home of Albert and Elizabeth Roberts four miles north of Fowler for the purpose of beginning a church. On June 23, 1906, an organizational meeting was held in the Congregational Church. 

The Academy was built and located at the northwest edge of Fowler (NE corner of Sec. 1-31-27.) It was a two story structure with living rooms for teachers on the second floor and school rooms on the first floor. This building was also used for church services until the school closed and Fowler Friends Church was built in 1916. 

The following “Origin of the Academy” was printed in the student handbook when the school opened in 1906: 

"The origin of Fowler Friends’ Academy is traceable to an expression of a former student of Friends University that he would give more to found an Academy at this place than he would to promote any other enterprise. The suggestion was taken up and a generous sum pledged for a building and five acres of land donated for a site. The citizens offered all of this to the Haviland Quarterly Meeting of Friends with the provision that when it had maintained an Academy for five years the property should pass wholly into its hands. Haviland Quarterly Meeting, not being an incorporated body, did not accept this offer, but a corporate body of Friends was organized, the gift accepted, plans for a building adopted and a contract for the building let. The result is an artistic, commodious, and well-built structure on a beautiful site commanding an extensive view of the Artesian Valley. The board of management in assuming control of the institution gratefully acknowledges the liberality of the donors the confidence placed in the Friends Church, and the hearty cooperation met on every hand. It is the general feeling, “It is the Lord’s doing. It is marvelous in our eyes.” The weight of responsibility is great, but undertaken in the faith that, with God’s benediction and the help of all, a great educational need will be met. We have contracted with teachers of approved ability who will do all they can to promote the interests of e very student who enrolls in the institution.

The Building 

On the first floor there are an entrance hall and two cloak rooms, the main school room, two recitation rooms, and an office and library room. On the second floor there are three good rooms."  

As Fowler Friends Academy was the first high school in the county, students came from far and wide. They came from rural areas, Meade, Plains, and surrounding counties. The second floor housed the principal’s family for a time and the rooms were used for boarding teachers and even students that came from a distance. Boarding for students was also offered in people’s homes. 

An ad for the Academy in the July 12, 1906, Meade County News stated the following:  

“The building is well adapted to its purpose and commands a beautiful view of the artesian valley. The institution is under the care of the following Board of Trustees: Nixon Rich, Fred Johnson, A.B. Robert and A.J. George, of Fowler, Kansas; B.H. Albertson, Alvin H. Parker and B.F. Parker, of Haviland, Kansas; James H. Hadley, of Coldwater, Kansas and James L. Welsh, of Wichita Kansas. 

Thorough courses of study have been provided, calculated to develop the student and fit him for college, for teaching or for the everyday duties.  

We are pleased to announce that we have secured for Principal Prof. H.H. Townsend, a graduate of Earlham College, Indiana, and one who has had long and successful experience in conducting academies. He will be assisted by competent instructors." 

The school opened September 17, 1906, with Henry H. Townsend and Anna, his wife, as instructors. They continued teaching three years, then Henry kept on one more year with Mary Franklin, of Ohio, as assistant. After Henry Townsend left, other teachers were: Emmett E. Hadley and Mary Franklin one year, John Howard and Mary Franklin one year, John Howard and Grace Gibson one year, Sylvester Chance and Mary McCracken one year.  

The handbook listed tuition to the school was as follows in 1906:

Fall Term, 11 weeks… ...$7.50
Winter Term, 13 weeks… 9.00
Spring Term, 12 weeks… 8.50
For less than one term seventy-five cents per week. Tuition is due on entering.
Boarding can be obtained in private families. 

In June of 1911, the Academy board met to discuss closing the doors of the institution because they felt they could not afford to run the school in opposition to a free high school which the City was in the process of building. As a result of this meeting a petition was circulated and in a very short time sufficient funds had been pledged to give the Academy the best support it had received since it had been established. The prospects then pointed to the largest enrollment that the Academy had ever known.  

By May of 1914, a public high school had been built in Fowler, and Fowler Friends Academy closed its doors. Miss Mabel Hoskins was the only senior that year and the last student to graduate from the Friends Academy. 

Number of enrolled students as shown by an old register: 

Year 1             40                    Year 4             45                    Year 7             43
Year 2             54                    Year 5             34                    Year 8             31
Year 3             34                    Year 6             60 

After the school closed the property was purchased by John F. Conrad who constructed a family home from the building using three of the original walls. The dwelling then passed to the Conrad’s daughter and was known as the Henry L. Salmon home, and was eventually torn down in 2011.

This cut of the Fowler City map, from the 1909 Meade County Plat Book, shows where the Fowler Friends Academy was located in the northwest corner of town. In the November 26, 1909 issue of the Fowler newspaper this was in the school news…. “The friends of the Academy are grateful to Mrs. Fowler for so laying off her addition to Fowler as to leave a good street by the Academy…” thus Academy Street was so named.

Note: two doors south of the school was Mr. Townsend's home.

 

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