The school was chartered in 1874 by five siblings who had lost all their children and determined to found a school as a gift to the children of others.
Loomis Homestead (1640), one of the oldest houses in the state, still remains on the campus of the Loomis Chaffee School (1910 postcard)
The roots of Loomis Chaffee run as far back as 1639, when Joseph Loomis and his family first settled at the confluence of the Farmington and Connecticut rivers. Several generations later, the inspiration for the school was born out of family tragedy, when, in the early 1870s, four Loomis brothers and their sister had outlived all their children.
As a memorial to their own offspring, and as a gift to future children, they pooled their considerable estates to found a secondary school called The Loomis Institute to educate young persons, "hoping and trusting that some good may come to posterity, from the harvest, poor though it be, of our lives." The original 1640 Loomis Homestead was chosen as the site where their dream would become reality.
James Chaffee Loomis, Hezekiah Bradley Loomis, Osbert Burr Loomis, John Mason Loomis, and Abigail Sarah Loomis Hayden planned a school that would offer both vocational and college preparatory courses. (Vocational offerings were discontinued during the later development of the school.) The institution would have no religious or political admission criteria. Boys and girls would be given as free an education as the endowment would allow. The Loomis Institute opened its doors in 1914 to 39 boys and five girls. In 1926, their girls’ division broke off to focus more closely on girls’ educational issues and became The Chaffee School.
Both schools continued to expand. The Loomis Institute built several new facilities in 1967, and the two schools reunited in 1970, forming The Loomis Chaffee School. Six years later it began admitting girls as boarders. The reunification led to a major revision of the curriculum, which combined a demanding basic program with a broad range of electives in art, music, philosophy, religion and other subjects.
The Loomis Chaffee School has enjoyed a period of unprecedented growth since the 1970s. It strengthened its endowment to bolster financial aid and broadened the diversity of the student body. Recently, it opened new dormitories, an enclosed hockey and skating rink, a brand new athletics center, a visual arts center, a new history and social science facility, an expanded dining hall, and a new student center. In recent years, the Clark Center for Science and Mathematics was completely renovated, and Chaffee Hall was transformed and expanded to house the all-new Hubbard Music Center. In the summer of 2012, the first floor of the Katharine Brush Library was extensively renovated, increasing the usable space of the library by 17 percent, while Richmond Hall, an underclassmen girls dorm, was constructed in 2014.
Facts and figures
Grubbs Quadrangle looking toward the Dining Hall, The Loomis Chaffee School (circa the 1950s).
55% of full-time teaching faculty at Loomis Chaffee for 10 years or longer
Cupola atop Founders Hall
Loomis Chaffee offers courses in Arabic, Chinese, psychology, writing workshop, videography, English, Latin, Spanish, French, art, dance, history and social science, mathematics, music, philosophy, religion, science and theater arts. Noncredit diploma requirements include library skills, and physical fitness and health. Advanced Placement courses are offered in 20 subjects.
The Norton Family Center for the Common Good and the Center for Global Studies work to engage the student body with the wider community and world by means of visiting speakers and international study opportunities.
All students participate in interscholastic, intramural or daytime athletic programs each trimester. Interscholastic varsity and junior varsity competition for boys and girls is offered on 55 teams in baseball, basketball, cross country, field hockey, football, golf, ice hockey, lacrosse, skiing, soccer, softball, squash, swimming/diving, tennis, track, volleyball, water polo and wrestling. There are an additional 19 intramural sports, including both team sports and "lifetime and leisure" sports like yoga and weight lifting. Freshman-level teams are offered in soccer, lacrosse, field hockey, boys basketball and boys tennis. Facilities include a double gymnasium and two other gymnasia, supporting basketball and volleyball courts; a fitness center and a weight room, totaling 6,300 square feet (590 m2); a 25-meter, six-lane swimming pool; an enclosed hockey rink; a 400-meter, eight-lane, all-weather track; eight international squash courts; 17 tennis courts; a 3.1-mile (5.0 km) cross-country course; two baseball diamonds; two softball diamonds; 17 fields for football, soccer, lacrosse and field hockey; and a golf practice driving range, putting green and sand trap.
Four full-time college counselors guide students through the college search and application process. Eighty-six percent of the members of the Class of 2010 were admitted to colleges and universities deemed most competitive or highly competitive by Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges, with sixty-six percent matriculating at the most competitive institutions.
The Senior Path, Grubbs Quadrangle looking toward Founders Hall, The Loomis Chaffee School
The Loomis Chaffee Log
The Loomis Chaffee Log is a student-run, school-sponsored newspaper. Its readership includes students, faculty, parents, and alumni. Published monthly by a team of student editors, the Log is now in its 94th year. It recently launched an online edition to stay current with growing trends in today's media. Recently, a second paper, The Maroon & Grey has been published to provide students with satirical content about issues ranging from school topics to worldwide news.
Loomis and Kent School have a long-running athletic tradition. On November 11, 1921, the Kent football team played Loomis on the Island and despite a strong showing of the home team, Loomis lost 14 to 7. After the game, as was the custom of the day, the boys from both teams showered and went to the headmaster's home where Mrs. Batchelder served them tea. Once the Kent boys returned home, the Batchelders discovered that a silver teaspoon, one from a wedding set belonging to the Batchelders, was missing. Mr. Batchelder wrote to Father Sill, Kent's founder, about the missing spoon. Heated words were exchanged defending the honesty of the young men at each school until finally, the matter was dropped. In June 1922, the guilty young Kent football player went to Father Sill and confessed. At Father Chalmers thirty-fifth anniversary dinner years later, Kent's new headmaster told the whole story and offered the spoon back to Mr. B. who graciously declined. He insisted that the spoon stay at Kent. Father Chalmers then suggested that a large spoon serve as a permanent football trophy to be held by the victorious school. Kent would secure the spoon "to in someway... return to Loomis for our keeping borrowed property." The two schools take this historic enmity quite seriously, and have annual Kent vs. Loomis days. The two schools competed for the spoon and the bowl until 2013, when, due to new rules in the Erickson Football League, Kent pulled out of the football game, leaving the two schools to compete only for the bowl.
The Senior Path is a brick pathway running through the middle of the Grubbs Quadrangle. Tradition holds that only seniors, PGs, and graduates are allowed to walk the length of the path. As each class heads into its final months at Loomis, the soon-to-be-graduates design a new section of brick to be laid.
Traditionally, the third floor of Founders' Hall, the tunnels, and some parts of the health center are rumored to be haunted.
David E. Kaiser 1965 - professor of history, Naval War College, Newport, RI, author of American Tragedy, Politics and War: European Conflict from Philip II to Hitler, and Epic Season: The 1948 American League Pennant Race
Jonathan Carroll 1967 – author of The Land of Laughs, Voice of Our Shadow, Bones of the Moon, A Child Across the Sky, Black Cocktail, Sleeping in Flame, Outside the Dog Museum, After Silence, From the Teeth of Angels
Benjamin Cheever 1967 – author of The Plagiarist, The Partisan, Famous After Death
Peter A. LeWitt 1968 – world-renowned neurologist in the field of Parkinson's disease research
John Terry 1968 – film and television actor, Against the Grain, A Dangerous Woman, Iron Will, Lost
David Margolick 1970 – Contributing Editor, Vanity Fair; National Legal Affairs Correspondent, The New York Times; author of At the Bar, Undue Influence: The Epic Battle for the Johnson & Johnson Fortune, Strange Fruit: The Biography of a Song, Beyond Glory: Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling and a World on the Brink
James Widdoes 1972 – film and television actor, director, and producer: Animal House (actor), Charles in Charge (actor), Night Court (actor), Dave's World (director/actor), My Wife and Kids (director/actor), 8 Simple Rules... For Dating My Teenage Daughter (director/producer), Two and a Half Men (director)
Thomas Rome 1974 - producer of jazz and world music, concert impresario
Steven Strogatz 1976 – Professor of Applied Mathematics, Cornell University, recipient of Presidential Young Investigator Award, author of SYNC: The Emerging Science of Spontaneous Order, math blogger for The New York Times (2010)
Mark Brown 1977 – Major League Baseball pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles (1984) and Minnesota Twins (1985)
David Edelstein 1977 – film critic for New York Magazine, NPR's Fresh Air, CBS Sunday Morning, Slate, the New York Post, the Village Voice, and the Boston Phoenix