Mowry and Goff’s Prepartory School

Milton’s father, Joseph attended the Mowry and Goff preparatory school in Providence. Information on Mowry & Goff preparatory school can be found on>Facts and Folklore>Old Stone Bank History of Rhode Island. This web site author is indebted to the work of the following writers and transcriber for the information on the school through their writing about another Mowry and Goff prep school student, Arthur Kelly.

“A Mr. Arthur Kelly, who was the second president of The Old Stone Bank of Rhode Island, was a graduate of Mowry & Goff and he proudly credits — “as do many others among our leading citizens”–  this school as the first stepping stone of his education.   The following excerpts about Mowry & Goff preparatory school are taken from the article on Mr. Kelly, An Alumnus of Mowry & Goff’s.  The complete article comes from The Old Stone Bank History of Rhode Island, Vol.IV. pages 253-257, published by the Providence Institution for Savings, 1944.  Transcribed by Christopher Martin.”

“The English and  Classical School, more popularly and affectionately known as Mowry & Goff, was termed “the brightest spot in Rhode Island’s history of education.” … William A. Mowry … , On February 22, 1864, Washington’s birthday,  the English and Classical School received its first applicants in what was long a famous landmark, the Lyceum Building, on the present site of the Povidence National Bank. … Charles B. Goff… school moved into much more commodious quarters in the Fletcher building at the corner of Westminster and Eddy Streets. …  1875, when the school, Mowry & Goff’s, acquired its own building, still standing at 63 Snow Street (article date, 1944)  The public library occupied the first floor and the school the two upper floors. The second floor was given over to recitation rooms and a chapel, while the drill hall took most of the top floor. Probably most of the living alumni date their recollections of dear old school days at Mowry & Goff’s back to the Snow Street location, a landmark if there ever was one during a quarter century of Providence history. To complete the history of the institution—the failure of Mr. Smith’s health, the death of Mr. Goff in 1898, and the steady improvement of the local high schools, finally led to the dissolution of the project. The University Grammar School founded in 1764, on College Hill, was merged with Mowry & Goff’s under the direction of Mr. Rice, and, in 1904, another merger with the Friend’s School, now Moses Brown School, brought to a close the brilliant career of a school whose influence had so much to do with the advancement of educational practices throughout the State. We all know many of the graduates, many of them have become our leaders of today, and although the school is no more, and has been gone for long, memories thereof do not grow dimmer with the passing of years and of decades.”

“Reunions of Mowry & Goffers abound with happy recollections of days spent under Mrs. Harriet A. Dean, whose Preparatory Department was affectionately dubbed “The Deanery”; of that grand old lady, Mrs. Harriet M. Miller, the elocution teacher and the favorite line of hers about “the tintinnabulation of the tinkling, tinkling bells”; Miss Isabel C. French, the ambidextrous teacher of arithmetic and geography, who could write equally well with either hand; the late Walter J. Towne; the late Clarence H. Manchester, beloved principal of Technical High, who gave the names of all the boys a Latin twist; and so on. Not forgetting the military side of the school, that was most important, especially on Fridays, when the parents and, of course, the young ladies were invited to witness dress parade. The military organization was one of the school’s most popular features. It helped maintain discipline and gave color to all school activities. The occasional street parades will never be forgotten by the participants. Real Springfield rifles lined the racks in the drill hall and all pupils, regardless of size, took part in regular drills several times a week. Outstanding among the instructors, none will ever forget General Charles R. Dennis whose insistence on military precision was rigorous, to say the least. In later years the uniform equipment was brought up to army regulations and a high standard of close order precision followed which brought generous applause whenever a public drill was held in Infantry or Music Hall. This school was one of the first to introduce gymnastic training and a session in the gym was part of the daily routine. Pupils of Mowry & Goff’s enjoyed the great benefits of individual instruction. Mr. Mowry contended that ten scholars to a teacher was enough and the number never exceeded fifteen. Thus it was possible to really understand the pupils and give to each the help that would accomplish the most for him. Here, also, we have the secret of the affection which the scholars developed for their masters, who were always on the most intimate terms with the boys. Teachers were selected for their special fitness and numberless innovations in teaching practice, now in common use, originated in Mowry & Goff’s classrooms. We would like to touch up on some of the sidelights of life at this interesting school, such as the surreptitious visits to Handy’s Museum on Mondays and Thursdays; the forbidden delicacies smuggled in from Remington & Sessions’ and Rausch’s Bakery, etc.; and upon the time when Arthurus Livingston Kelley, as he was probably called by Professor Manchester, came to drill with a real, regulation Army poncho manufactured in his father’s mill, but such pleasant and amusing memories are reserved for those who cherish intimate associations with Mowry & Goff’s. As far as the past is concerned, the school made history by producing men who have made and will make Rhode Island history.(Article comes from The Old Stone Bank History of Rhode Island, Vol. 1v, pages 253-257, published by the Providence Institution for Savings, 1944. Transcribed by Christopher Martin.)”

Editor’s Notes

Arthur Livingston Kelley: June 14, 1888-December 7, 1958. Buried in PV003, Swan Point Cemetery, Providence.

Mowry & Goff’s: From King’s Pocket Book of Providence by Moses King (1882):

“MOWRY AND GOFF’S ENGLISH AND CLASSICAL SCHOOL has attained a rank second to no similar institution in this country. In 1864 Wm. A. Mowry, who for five years had been at the head of the English and scientific department of the Providence High School, and a teacher there for a period previous, projected an English and classical school, the underlying principle of which was “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” and the object of which was to give to boys a thorough moral and intellectual education, with due attention to their physical needs—in short, thoroughly to fit young men for business, for scientific schools, or for college. He opened the school in February, 1864, in the Lyceum Building, with 53 scholars. In September of the same year he associated with himself his present partner, Chas. B. Goff, a college mate and friend, then, and, for half a dozen years previous, the principal of the Fall River High School. The motto of Mowry and Goff was, Deo doctrinaeque; and, under this, the school has experienced nothing but uninterrupted prosperity. In 1865, the accommodation becoming too small, two full stories were obtained in the Narragansett Block. Five years later additional room became a necessity; and the school was moved to Fletcher Building, where it remained till the completion, in 1875, of the present building, which Mowry and Goff themselves erected expressly for school use. It is one of the best constructed and most serviceable structures of its kind to be seen in the city. The two large upper floors, 91 x 94 feet each, are utilized for the school, while the lower floor is occupied by the Providence Public Library. It is situated on Snow St., extending through to Moulton St., bet. Westminster and Washington Sts. It is thoroughly fitted out with all appliances and apparatus necessary to make it wholesome and useful. It was formally dedicated April 22, 1875, with interesting exercises, which were published in the school’s report for that year. The catalogue for 1882 shows 14 instructors and 263 scholars. The school has had 2,000 pupils, and has already 250 graduates, many of whom are prosperous men, in various professional and business pursuits.”


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