Harley Turned 100!2018-10-30T15:15:45-05:00

Harley Turned 100!

2017 marked Harley’s Centennial year and is a time to look back on The Harley School’s history, honor the amazing faculty, highlight our remarkable alumni community, applaud the accomplishments we have made over the past decade, and look forward to the greatness that is yet to come.

Our History

In 1917, ten women in Rochester set out to establish a new kind of school for their children and for future generations. They envisioned a school that would be truly inclusive (with scholarships for less-privileged children) and cooperative (with parents and teachers collaborating in the best interests of the students).

They envisioned a school that would provide children with what they needed “to free their potentialities for full growth and achievement, and to serve their fellow human beings to the height of their power.”  

First known as “The Children’s University School of Rochester,” the school was first located on Oxford Street in Rochester and was furnished with chairs, rugs, curtains, and toys collected by the founding mothers. As the school day was lengthened, lunch was provided and they took turns preparing lunch and working with the children.  

The school moved several times throughout the first years, taking up residence in a house on Park Avenue, a room in the Anthony Memorial Hall at the University of Rochester, then to the Third Presbyterian Church on the corner of Meigs Street and East Avenue. In 1924, the school was officially named The Harley School (the first three letters and last three letters of one of the founding mother’s Harriet Bentley), and was eventually moved to 242 Oxford Street. The school flourished and under the tenure of Miss Louise Sumner, the first Head of School, broke ground at our current location on Clover Street.

Ah, the humble beginnings of The Harley School!

Today, 100 years later, Harley is home to more than 500 students, ages 3 to 18. The principles of inclusion, cooperation, and achievement continue to define a Harley School education — as exemplified by our present-day mission statement.

Heads of School

In our 100th year, Larry Frye, current Head of the Upper School, was named Harley’s next Head of School. Larry will officially begin his tenure as Harley’s 14th Head of School in July 2018.

Louise Maudsley Sumner, 1925-1944

Lawrence Wesley Utter, 1944-1954

William Spencer Litterick, 1954-1959

Rowland Paul McKinley, Jr., 1959-1963

Stephen Hinrichs, 1963-1977

Dexter Lewis, 1977-1982

John F. Skillman, 1982-1988

Miriam Snyder, 1988-1989

William P. Burleigh, 1989-1991

Richard Blumenthal, 1991-1999

Paul Schiffman, 2000-2006

Timothy R. Cottrell, 2006-2012

Ward J. Ghory, 2013 to 2018


Harley is rich in history and tradition. The timeline highlights some of Harley’s major actions and events!

Summer 1917 – School Founded under the name of “The Children’s University School of Rochester” located in a house on Oxford Street

Winter 1918 – School moved to vacant tailor shop on Park Avenue


Fall 1922 – School housed at Third Presbyterian Church for children ages 3-7.

January 1924 – School incorporated under the name Harley

Fall 1924 – School moved to 242 Oxford Street for grades Nursery – 5th grade

Fall 1925 – Miss Louise Sumner is hired as first director

December 1926 – First Candlelight Service and First Pageant

May 1927 – First May Day to celebrate when apple trees were in full bloom.

June 1927 – First Commencement with one graduate, a girl, Frederika Morehouse and first reference to class banners.

January 1931 – Gymnasium/auditorium building opens

June 1931 – School Flag and class banners given as a gift from the Class of 1931

June 1933 – First yearbook published

June 1934 – First boys graduated – two in a class of eight! Alan Gleason and Roy Parker

December 1934 – First Pageant

Summer 1941 – First Harley Day Camp

Fall 1941 – Hollister House, 987 East Avenue, boarding facility in Rochester, is opened

1941 – First Alma Mater

June 1944 –Lawrence Utter is named as director

October 1944 – First Harley Sale

Fall 1946 – The Teachers’ Retirement Annuity plan begins

June 1949 – Hollister House sold

Fall 1949 – Perkins Building, connecting the barn and gymnasium, is opened

1949 – First Art Gallery

June 1954 –Dr. William Letterick is named “Headmaster”

Fall 1954 – The Gray brothers, Bob ’58, Allen ’55, and Bill ’57, create the first soccer field

June 1957 – Three year old Nursery program closes

1958 – First Harley Alumni child graduates, Elizabeth Tuthill

1958-1959 – New student service center, dining room, music room, kitchen, offices, girls and boys locker rooms, student publications

June 1959 –Rowland McKinley became headmaster

Spring of 1960 – First Harley Alumni Cup awarded

September 1961 – Alexander Russell announces a gift of $200,000 to the school, Harley is joined with Allendale School and Columbia School to form the Rochester Council of Independent Schools and launches a capital drive for $475,000

June 1962 – Cornerstone is laid for the Russell Building which contained the library, classrooms, and laboratories. The ground floor was equipped as a fall-out shelter.

September 1962 – Russell Building opens

June 1963 –Stephen Hinrichs is named headmaster

Summer 1964 – First Harley Record magazine

September 1964 – Trimester plan begins

Spring 1966 – Stage addition built on the south end of the gymnasium/auditorium

February 1967 – Capital fund drive launched to raise $1.5 million for new buildings

Spring 1967 – Booklet, “An Experience of Worth,” published for the school’s 50th year

September 1968 – New buildings: Richard U. Wilson building (addition to the Russell Library), Beckerman Center, and West Wing (math, French, and science classrooms). Barn building now houses only offices and art room.

Spring 1968 – First Ralph S. McKee Athletic Trophy awarded

September 1969 – Field House and pool open and Tennis and Swim Association form

Fall 1970 – The “integrated day” begun in Lower School with Primary groups containing Kindergarten, first, and second grades

1971-1972 – “Gift of Love” and “Magic Penny” are added to Pageant

Fall 1972 – Harley and Allendale Columbia athletic teams merge to form HAC

September 1974 – Barn building is torn down. Building begins on new Wilson Arts Center

1974 – First year that HAC was allowed to play in Sectionals

May 1976 – Flag Hall dedicated to parent and architect, Conway Todd

June 1976 – Honors Assembly begins in old gymnasium/auditorium, students march with banners to the new theater in the Wilson Arts Center, 1976 Commencement takes place in the new theater

August 1976 – Old gymnasium/auditorium catch on fire while being torn down

September 1976 – Wilson Arts Center opened to the students and the community

June 1977 –Dexter Lewis appointed headmaster

Spring 1979 – First French exchange for students held

October 1980 – First Scottish exchange for students took place

September 1981 – First Banner magazine

June 1982 –John Skillman appointed headmaster, Allen Creek Bridge and Nature Center dedicated

May 1984 – First Grandparents’ Day held

September 1985 – Three year old Nursery is reinstated

September 1986 – Grade two removed from Primary and established as separate grade

June 1988 –Miriam Snyder appointed headmistress

February 1989 –William Burleigh appointed as acting headmaster

November 1989 – William Burleigh becomes headmaster

June 1991 –Richard Blumenthal is appointed headmaster

September 1992 –Ruth Ewell writes, “A History of The Harley School” for the school’s 75th birthday

1994 – Last Harley Sale

January 1996 – HAC Braves become the Wolves

November 1996 – HAC joins the Finger Lakes League

Summer 1998 – First Sundae Sunday

Winter 1999 – First Blast!

Fall 2000 –Paul Schiffman is named “Head of School”

2000 – Kick-off of Facilities Improvement Campaign

2001 – First 1981 Clover Street magazine

Fall 2001 – First Becoming magazine

September 2003 – Lower School addition and Robin Lehman Visual Art Center is dedicated

Fall 2005 New art facility, middle school, updated Wilson Gallery

Fall 2006 –Tim Cottrell is named Head of School

August 2009 – Sands Stern Academic Center dedicated, new Middle School and Upper School classrooms and library

Fall 2009 – Reformatted Becoming magazine

Fall 2009 – Acquired barn in Victor, NY, an impetus for future Commons building

2010 – Campaign to “re-raise” the barn begins

June 2011 – Dedication of the stone seating area on school front lawn

October 2011 – Chesonis Commons Gift is announced, groundbreaking

Fall 2012 –Valerie Myntti is named Interim Head of School

September 2012 – The First “First Day Flowers”

June 2012 – First “Last Day Lemonade”

Fall 2013- Ward Ghory is named Head of School

September 2014 – Chesonis Commons Building opens

Fall 2015 – First Commons Speaker Series takes place in The Commons building

Fall 2015 – Revised Harley School Mission Statement

Fall 2016 – Refurbished flag pole and new benches in front entrance of school

Mission & Core Values

We are a diverse, inclusive school. We provide a balanced education that prepares our students to meet the challenges of tomorrow and lead lives of great purpose.

  1. We inspire academic excellence.
  2. We foster joy in learning in both the arts and the sciences.
  3. We promote physical and mental fitness.
  4. We show how to care for the world and other people.
  5. We empower our students to become confident, lifelong learners.

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