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Our History

Over 100 years strong!

Beginning in 1917

A group of mothers of widely differing social circles met to discuss the means of providing a school experience for their four-year-olds. The school, originally based in the Montessori method, stressed the development of the individual at their own pace with the teacher as a “guide” rather than as a “goad.”

The Harley School was first called “The Children’s University School of Rochester” and Mrs. Cogswell (Harriet) Bentley was credited as the founder. In January 1924, the school was incorporated under the name Harley, a combination of the first three and last three letters of Mrs. Harriet Bentley’s name. The school grew and prospered and enrollment grew. Harley moved to various locations downtown until the permanent location on Clover Street was purchased. 

Think, for a moment, of the lasting commitment of the founders and early families. Their dedication to a co-ed, child-centered school planted the seeds for the Harley of today. Their work informs our exciting future as we provide an outstanding educational experience, with incredible opportunities for children as the premiere independent school in Greater Rochester.

Harley through the Years

Harley Timeline

[et_pb_vertical_timeline line_color=”#00502f” _builder_version=”4.0.6″ label_font=”|700|||||||” label_text_color=”#ffffff” label_font_size=”18px” headings_text_align=”center” custom_margin=”-3px||0px||false|false” custom_padding=”0px||0px||false|false” label_text_shadow_style=”preset1″][et_pb_vertical_timeline_item title=”1910″ font_icon=”%%236%%” icon_color=”#00502f” circle_color=”#ffffff” line_color=”#d1de30″ _builder_version=”4.0.6″]1917 – The Harley School Founded[/et_pb_vertical_timeline_item][et_pb_vertical_timeline_item title=”1920″ font_icon=”%%250%%” icon_color=”#00502f” circle_color=”#ffffff” line_color=”#d1de30″ _builder_version=”4.0.9″]

1924 – School incorporated

1924 – Acquired 242 Oxford St. and expanded to include Nursery 4 – Gr. 5

1925 – Louise M. Sumner Director

1926 – Moved to reonovated barn on Clover st. and expanded to Gr. 12

1926 – Candlelight tradition began

1927 – First May Day Celebration; First Commencement with one graduate; First banner (Horn)

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1931 – Gymnasium and Auditorium buildings opened: Harley flag created 

1932 – School accredited 

1933 – The Comet Yearbook debuted

1934 – Commencement included first male graduates

1934 – First Harley Pageant 

[/et_pb_vertical_timeline_item][et_pb_vertical_timeline_item title=”1940″ font_icon=”%%73%%” icon_color=”#00502f” circle_color=”#ffffff” line_color=”#d1de30″ _builder_version=”4.0.9″]1941 – Alma Mater written; Hollister House opened (a boarding facility; First Harley day camp

1944 – Lawrence Wesley Utter director Lawrence Wesley Utter

1944 – First Harley Sale

1949 – Hollister House closed; First Harley Gallery and Perkins Building Opened[/et_pb_vertical_timeline_item][et_pb_vertical_timeline_item title=”1950″ font_icon=”%%133%%” icon_color=”#00502f” circle_color=”#ffffff” line_color=”#d1de30″ _builder_version=”4.0.9″]1954 – Soccer field completed

1958 – First alumni children graduated

1959 – Rowland P. Mckinley, Jr. Headmaster Rowland P. Mckinley Jr[/et_pb_vertical_timeline_item][et_pb_vertical_timeline_item title=”1960″ font_icon=”%%282%%” icon_color=”#00502f” circle_color=”#ffffff” line_color=”#d1de30″ _builder_version=”4.0.9″]1960 – Alumni cup introduced

1962 – Russell building opened

1963 – Stephen Hinrichs Headmaster Stephen Hinrichs

1964 – Trimester plan began; Harley Record debuted

1967 – An Experience of Worth published for 50th Anniversary

1968 – Richard U. Wilson building, Beckerman Center, Math, French, and Science Classrooms opened in West Wing; First Ralph S. Mckee Athletic Trophy Award

1969 – Field House and Pool opened, Tennis and Swim Association formed[/et_pb_vertical_timeline_item][et_pb_vertical_timeline_item title=”1970″ font_icon=”%%299%%” icon_color=”#00502f” circle_color=”#ffffff” line_color=”#d1de30″ _builder_version=”4.0.9″]

1972Gift of Love written for pageant

1972 – HAC Athletics formed

1976 – Honors Assembly established; Wilson Arts center opened

1977 – Dexter Lewis Headmaster Dexter Lewis

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1980 – Harley Scottish Exchange launched

1981Banner Magazine debuted

1982 – John F. Skillman Headmaster John F. Skillman

1984 – Grandparents & Special Friends Day began

1988 – Miriam Snyder Head Miriam Snyder

1989 – William Burleigh acting Head of School William Burleigh

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1991 – Richard M. Blumenthal Headmaster Richard M. Blumenthal

1992A History of the Harley School written by Ruth Ewell for 75th Anniversary

1996 – HAC Braves renamed Wolves

1998 – Sundae Sunday started

1999 – First Blast! Fundraiser

1999 – Richard F. Barter Interim Headmaster Richard F. Barter

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2000 – Paul Schiffman Head of School Paul Schiffman

2001Becoming Newsletter published; Oak Tree Ceremony instituted

2003 – Robert Lehman Center for Visual Arts opened

2004 – Harley Hospice program began

2005 – Sands-Stern Academic Center (Middle and Upper School Addition) and Wilson Gallery unveiled

2006 – Timothy Cottrell Head of School Timothy Cottrell ; First Day Flowers

2009Becoming Magazine debuted

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2010 – Dry Stone wall, Circle, Cairn completed; Pam Kimmet Natural Playground dedicated

2012 – Valerie Myntti Interim Head of School Valerie Myntti

2013 – Ward Ghory Head of School Ward Ghory

2014 – The Commons Opened; The Commons Series began

2015 – New Harley Mission Statement

2017 – Centennial Celebrations commenced

2018 – Moore/Brown Center for Creative Media built

2018 – Peckham Wellness Center and Winslow Natural Playground & Outdoor Learning Center Groundbreaking; Larry Frye Head of School Larry Frye


The Harley School

1981 Clover Street
Rochester, NY 14618
(585) 442-1770

©2021 The Harley School