Collegiate School, a day school for boys, is the oldest independent school in the United States. Tracing its origins to 1628, the school was established by the Dutch West India Company and the Classis of Amsterdam, the parent ecclesiastical body of the Dutch Reformed Church for the colonists of New Amsterdam.
Beginning with Adam Roelantsen, twenty-eight headmasters have guided Collegiate "so that first of all in so wild a country, the youth be well taught and brought up." As New York City expanded to the north, the school moved from its original quarters on the southern tip of Manhattan Island to a number of different locations. In 1892 it settled at a site next to the West End Collegiate Church, where Collegiate took on its modern form as an all boys' school and continued to develop its college preparatory program. In 2018, the school moved from the site at 260 West 78th Street to its new home at 301 Freedom Place South.
Incorporated in 1940 as a non-profit organization under the Education Act of the State of New York, Collegiate School is no longer a church-directed institution, but the school maintains its historic association with the Collegiate Churches. A non-denominational school, Collegiate attracts a diverse group of boys, families, and faculty that has characterized the school for many years.
The origins of Collegiate School begin in New York with the arrival of Reverend Jonas Michaelius to New Amsterdam. Reverend Michaelius was the first in a long line of educators who would become Schoolmasters of Collegiate School.
Collegiate School is chartered as part of the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church, of which it remained a part until 1940. Adam Roelantsen is the first official schoolmaster.
The British take control of New Amsterdam, renaming it New York.
The School begins teaching classes in both English and Dutch, reflecting the demographics of the colony.
Collegiate closes for the duration of the Revolutionary War.
The School is reorganized as a “charity school,” giving priority to children of church members (both boys and girls), especially orphans and children of widows.
Collegiate School becomes a distinct entity, with the consistory appointing a separate board of trustees to select faculty and operate the school. Enrollment is set at 100 students.
James Forrester becomes Schoolmaster from 1810-1842
The wall clock with the motto “Improve the Flying Moments” is given to the School by the Church.
Collegiate begins its gradual move uptown, leaving its location of 76 years on Garden Street (now Exchange Place) and moving to 9 Duane Street.
The School moves to 91 Mercer Street. Henry W. Dunshee becomes principal. He writes the first history of the school and is principal until 1887. Curriculum paths are different for boys and girls.
Collegiate moves into a new schoolhouse at 183 West Fourth Street. The school is reorganized with boys and girls separated, with boys on the first floor and girls on the second.
Collegiate moves to DeWitt Chapel at 160 West 29th Street. The School’s enrollment is now at 200.
Collegiate School celebrates its 250th Anniversary at the Marble Collegiate Church. The Headmaster’s tablet is presented by alumni to the Board.
LeMuel C. Mygatt becomes headmaster (he remains until 1910) and the School is reorganized, becoming a college and business preparatory school.
The school is renamed The Collegiate Grammar School and moves to 248 West 74th Street. It is still coeducational but no longer free. Enrollment is 56 students.
The School moves to 242 West 74th Street, which has the first school gym.
Collegiate moves to 241 West 77th Street (the “Old Building”) and the school year opens with 110 students and 11 faculty. This is the last year in which girls are admitted.
Enrollment is at 150 boys.
The Dutchman, the Collegiate yearbook, is first published.
The Alumni Association is formed.
Arthur Fiske Warren becomes headmaster (until 1930).
The first Head Boy award is presented by the Alumni Association. The recipient is Arthur Jackson.
The first formal graduation ceremony and awarding of diplomas is held since the School was reorganized in 1887.
Enrollment reaches 230.
The Collegiate Chapter of the Cum Laude Society is inaugurated.
Cornelius Boocock becomes headmaster and is so until 1934. The Parent-Teachers’s Association is founded.
The Collegian, the monthly school newspaper, is founded. It is later renamed The Collegiate Journal.
Wilson Parkhill becomes headmaster and is at the helm until 1959. A middle grade is added to the school to make 12 grades rather than the 11 the school has had since 1887.
A coeducational kindergarten (then called “pre-primary”) is started. It is in place until 1961.
The School and the Church are separated and Collegiate School is incorporated as an independent educational institution.
Enrollment is 160 boys.
Collegiate’s coeducational Nursery School begins. It runs until 1953.
Enrollment is 245 boys.
The School, after exploring plans to move to Riverdale or the Upper East Side, purchases a brownstone on West 78th Street in order to solve space problems.
Carl W. Andrews, Jr. becomes headmaster until 1971.
Collegiate purchases an additional brownstone on West 78th Street, but still has space problems created by an enrollment of more than 300 boys. Faculty numbers 45 and staff 11.
The brownstones on West 78th Street are demolished to make way for a new eight-story building.
The new building, later named Platten Hall, is dedicated. It includes Collegiate’s first modern gym and a 300-seat theater/auditorium. Enrollment rises to more than 500 boys.
Jamaa, Collegiate’s affinity group for students of color, is founded.
Richard F. Barter becomes Collegiate’s headmaster (until 1991).
Prufrock, Collegiate’s literary magazine, first publishes.
The West End Plaza Hotel on the corner of West End Avenue and 78th Street is purchased by the School.
The Class of 1980 graduates with 39 graduates. Enrollment is 540.
Platten Hall is expanded to 11 stories.
Jacob Adriaan Dresden becomes headmaster, and remains until 2000.
The Infill building is built, enlarging the campus and linking Platten Hall and West End Plaza.
Kerry P. Brennan becomes headmaster until 2004.
The School celebrates its 375th Anniversary year.
W. Lee Pierson becomes Collegiate's headmaster, serving until 2006.
Lee M. Levison begins his tenure as Collegiate's headmaster, serving until 2020.
The School announces it is moving to a new home at 301 Freedom Place South, Collegiate’s 18th location.
Collegiate moves to 301 Freedom Place South. The building is 180,000 square feet encompassing 11 floors – nine above ground and two below. It includes a regulation-size gym, nearly double the outdoor space, a 307-seat theater, and common areas dedicated to each division.
David S. Lourie begins his tenure as Head of School.