Campus News

Centennial Moments | June - August 1920

ummer 1920
By Dr. Stephen J. Ochs, Lawler Chair of History

The Jesuits made use of the summer months of 1920 to renovate the Prep campus, cultivate the school farm, and recruit new students.

By June 3, only three students remained on campus and were due to leave in a week's time. On June 5, the House Diarist noted, "Grand renovation of the building begun." This involved painting the rooms and corridors. In mid-July, a second artesian well, 298 feet deep, was finished. It could pump 50 gallons of water per minute.

Meanwhile, part of the campus continued to serve as a working farm. On July 19, the Diarist noted approvingly that a crop of hay was being harvested that would bring in $1,000 dollars ("$40 dollars per ton"). By July 24, preparations were also being made to sell the existing flock of chickens to make room for 100 full-blooded, white Leghorn hens, distinguished by their snow-white feathers and vivid red combs and wattles and known for their numerous, large, white eggs.

Recruitment of new students also continued apace and occupied much of Rev. Cornelius Shyne, S.J.,'s attention. School officials looked forward to adding a new freshman class in the coming year while advancing the current freshmen to sophomore status and the eighth graders to freshman standing. By early July, Fr. Shyne had ordered and sent out two thousand announcement cards for the 1920-21 academic year. His efforts proved successful. By September 10, all of the available rooms were filled and a waiting list begun. The second year of classes would begin on September 22 with 52 students present.

Gathering hay in Montgomery County, 1920

Photo Courtesy Montgomery County Historical Society


The first year of the second era of Georgetown Prep's 231-year history had concluded. School officials looked forward not only to the addition of new students and advancement of current ones, but also to construction of a North Wing to the Main Building in the near future that would accommodate the increase in school population that was anticipated. The new wing would also provide those students with an enlarged chapel space. Responses from prospective students were promising. All seemed good.

But, while university officials expressed satisfaction with the inaugural year, worries intruded about the quality of Rev. John A. Morning, S.J.,'s leadership as Headmaster and the academic quality of a number of the students. (Only seven of the freshmen who entered in 1919 would graduate among the 26-member Class of 1923.) Some Jesuits at the University and at Prep, were also concerned about what they perceived as Rev. John B. Creeden, S.J.,'s over-involvement in the administration of the Prep School.

The next ten years would be challenging, but also significantly formative. Within two years of the move to Garrett Park, a North Wing would be added to the Main Building (1921), and within four years, the Jesuits of Georgetown Prep would have their own religious superior – Rev. Thomas A. Emmet, S.J., – and a community separate from that of Georgetown University (1923). In addition, by 1927, Georgetown Prep would become an independent corporate entity as it legally separated from Georgetown University. Finally, in 1929, ten years after the opening of Georgetown Preparatory School at Garrett Park, the South Wing, the construction of which had precipitated the "divorce of sorts" from Georgetown University, would be completed. The realization of the original architectural plan of the Main Building with its North and South wings would symbolize "the end of the beginning" of 100 years at Garrett Park.

Georgetown Preparatory School, 1929