|History of MHS|
Miss Hall's School has chosen to date its founding from 1898, as that is when Miss Mira Hinsdale Hall began her forty-year leadership of the School, an era that brought the School to the forefront of women's independent secondary education. A broader historical view would be that the present school is a successor institution to one founded in 1800 by Miss Hall's great aunt, Nancy Hinsdale. That was the first girls' boarding school established in Massachusetts and the first attempt to provide advanced education for young women in the city of Pittsfield. The School evolved through various owners throughout the 1800s and was known at one point as the Pittsfield Young Ladies' Seminary. In 1898 Miss Hall bought the school that was sitting at South and Reed streets and began to apply her many talents to its expansion. For the next nine years, Miss Hall not only enrolled high school girls but also incorporated a coeducational primary day program into her school.
We read in archival literature that the School held, in 1906, certification in the New England Entrance Certificate Board, which allowed students who satisfactorily completed the College Preparatory Course to be admitted to Mt. Holyoke, Smith, Vassar, Wellesley, and Wells "without examination."
In 1908 Miss Hall bought the Colonel Walter Cutting Estate at the present location of the School, 492 Holmes Road. The School was officially moved to the new location in 1909, and the coeducational day school was discontinued. While still offering two courses of study, the "general academic" and "college preparatory," the School grew in reputation, and Mira Hall was well established nationally as a progressive educator of young women.
In February of 1923, tragedy struck the School when a fire broke out in the ceiling of the gymnasium. All of the students and faculty escaped safely, but the fire took the life of one employee and destroyed the estate. Miss Hall was then 60 years old, and it is a testament to her courage and will that she chose to rebuild. With students and faculty housed in the Curtis Hotel in Lenox and classes taught at Rockwell Cottage in Lenox, the founder set about to retain architects and builders. In October of 1924, she took occupancy of the beautiful Georgian building we enjoy today. It was at that time that the School incorporated as a non-profit educational institution and established a self-perpetuating board of trustees. Winthrop M. Crane Jr. became the first board president.
The School would continue to grow and flourish under the guidance of its visionary founder until August 25, 1937, when Mira Hall died suddenly while on vacation in York Harbor, Maine. For forty years, Mira Hall imbued the School with her own high standards of scholarship and character and with her adventuresome spirit, thereby establishing its national reputation. She taught girls to distinguish between "the gaudy and the real," and, in the words of students who wrote a tribute at the time of her death, "inspired in us the will to live our lives well and to make them worthy of her confidence in us."
School leadership passed, in 1937, to Miss Hall's niece, Margaret Hall, who led the School for ten years. The current leader, Margaret A. Jablonski, Ed.D., became the tenth Head of School in 2012, succeeding Jeannie Norris.
Miss Hall's School Mission Statement
|Miss Hall's School inspires and encourages each girl to pursue the highest standards of learning and character; to contribute boldly and creatively to the common good; and to seek a purposeful life based on honor, respect, and personal authenticity. |