127 years of excellence… and counting!

Roots as separate boys’ and girls’ schools

The story of Allendale Columbia School began in the fall of 1890, when Miss Caroline Milliman and Miss Alida Lattimore opened the doors to what would go on to become the Columbia School. Starting with 13 students in the elementary grades attending classes in a private home, the Columbia School soon expanded to become a kindergarten – grade 12 women’s preparatory school with its own facility, known for its quality academics.

In 1926, a group of Rochester businessmen and other interested individuals founded the Allendale School for Boys on a 24-acre site on Allens Creek Road. The boys’ school espoused the innovative “country day” philosophy that was then in vogue: students spent mornings studying academic subjects, early afternoons participating in athletics, and late afternoons completing their homework in a supervised setting. Gradually, Allendale became a college preparatory school like its sister school, Columbia.

A short-lived first merger

Faced with financial strain from the Great Depression, the two schools merged in 1936, parting again in 1939. Allendale and Columbia remained separate for the next 30 years.

Fiery disaster leads to rebirth

The most dramatic event in the school’s history occurred on Thanksgiving night, 1966, when a fire destroyed all the original buildings on the Allendale campus. With but one day lost, classes were held in the surviving gym and science building, and in the neighboring Baptist church. Fundraising efforts began immediately, and over $1,000,000 was raised to rebuild the school.

Two schools join permanently

Toward the late sixties, the leadership of the Allendale and Columbia schools mutually agreed on a merger, seeing the benefits of increased space and resources. In 1971, Allendale and Columbia combined under one Board of Trustees. The following year, the Columbia School moved to its new facilities on the Allendale campus.

Allendale Columbia School thrives

United as a single entity, the Allendale Columbia School blossomed. In 1982, the school adopted a Long Range Plan, setting lofty programmatic and financial goals, many of which were met in the following years. A 1990 Centennial Celebration was a major milestone, setting the tone for the last years of the 20th century.

In the new millennium, major improvements continued. The Gleason Science Wing, Gannett Gymnasium and Curtis Performance Center were added, and the Alumni Gymnasium, Arts Building and Library underwent significant renovations.

The year 2000 saw the successful conclusion of a three-year endowment campaign, Educating for Excellence, which added five million dollars to the School’s already strong endowment fund, for the particular purpose of supporting faculty compensation.

Progress continues

An ongoing effort to stay current with the latest technology has most recently resulted in the complete wired and wireless networking of our campus, the addition of several computer laboratories, and issuance of laptops to faculty. In 2002 the Courtyard was renovated and darkrooms were added to the art facilities.

Over the past few years, enrollment has increased, Allendale Columbia surpassed its goal for the Annual Fund, and is on its way to achieving goals set forth for its Impact Initiative.  With our strategic plan and visionary leadership guiding us, AC is focused on three key initiatives: Global Engagement; Entrepreneurship and Innovation; and STEM, Design, and Innovation.  Allendale Columbia continues to progress and prepare students to excel and succeed in a globally competitive society through making important connections, mastering strategies for learning, developing minds that are curious and creative and supporting a resilient spirit that dares to take risks.

Now well into its second century, Allendale Columbia continues, with clarity of purpose, to pursue the goals set many years ago: “academic excellence, the preparation for leadership, the development of character.”