Andover Weathered the Storm During the Great Depression

With a growing credit crisis, and the Dow plummeting to levels unseen in our history, The Phillipian investigates previous turmoil. In times of economic distress, such as the Great Depression and the economic recession of the 1970s, Phillips Academy has been largely unaffected, according to Ruth Quattlebaum, School Archivist. ?“[At Andover] not much happened during the Depression. I don’t think the applicant pool was as large as it had been in the past, but it certainly did not diminish significantly. It was one of those things where, despite the Depression, there was still a number of wealthy people who wanted to send their kids to prep school,” she said. ?Quattlebaum described Andover’s response to the 1970s recession as being “prudent and wise in terms of resources.” ?She mentioned the demolition of Will Hall in 2003 as a primary example of the school’s desire “to cut back on number of buildings necessary to maintain.” ?According to Quattlebaum, isolation from financial turmoil has long been a defining characteristic of Phillips Academy. ?“It is interesting how protected or insulated the Academy [has been] from the exigencies of what is going outside…It was true with protests, it was true with finances,” said Quattlebaum, “Schools like Andover tend to have a protective suit of armor [that] is oftentimes related to the size of the endowment.” ?Around the time of the 1929 stock market crash, the endowment was of little concern to Phillips Academy, which at the time was in the process of new construction initiatives. ?“[Andover] had just finished a huge building program with Thomas Cochran, so the campus had been transformed by the end of the 1920s. Cochran, who was employed by Morgan Stanley, [finalized his donation] right before he ended up getting caught in the Depression. Andover was very lucky to receive all the contributions before the stock market fell in 1929, and with all the money in hand, they were able to successfully complete their building program,” Quattlebaum said. ?An October 1931 editorial from The Phillips Bulletin explained Andover’s view of the Depression.?“Like any endowed institution, Phillips Academy, even with its long established policy of conservative investments, has been faced with a decrease in its available income and has been compelled to restrict expenditures within definite limits,” the editorial said. ?The editorial confirmed that applications for admissions had remained constant and stated that parents still found funding their children’s education to be a priority.?Frederick S. Allis, Jr., author of “Youth from Every Quarter – a Bicentennial History of Phillips Academy, Andover” wrote that “despite the desperate condition of most of the country, the School managed to weather the hard times very well.”?An October 1935 editorial in The Bulletin boasted of the school’s financial strength.?“Increases in the size of the Andover community – both in students and faculty, as well as expansions and completions of numerous buildings on campus, all contributed to the Academy’s ability to be “in a position to use its splendid resources to the maximum.”?However, Allis also wrote of issues in the Trustees’ Records – a deficit of $4,500 in 1934, and $40,000 in 1938 and 1939, but confirmed that the budget quickly rebounded to surpluses within a year. Allis later stated, “…all in all, the School weathered the Depression very well, and the institution was in general stronger at the end of the decade than at the beginning.”?In 1935, students often wrote of the latest developments in the national economy in a column frequently published in The Phillipian, “The World Around Us.” The editors of The Phillipian also wrote an editorial in 1936 about President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s need to cut spending titled, “The President and the Budget.” ?Another editorial from The Phillips Bulletin described the Depression as a learning opportunity for the Andover community. ?“At Phillips Academy, the depression has undoubtedly stimulated in faculty the students a new interest in economic, political, and social problems. Reading and talking constantly of national affairs with teachers and friends, students have absorbed a great deal of knowledge, and in the process many of them have become genuinely interested in getting at some basic principles.” ?