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Westminster School (Connecticut)

Westminster School
Westminster School's Seal.png
TypePrivate, Boarding, Day
MottoVirtute et Numine
(Grit and Grace)
FounderWilliam Lee Cushing
CEEB code070680
HeadmasterWilliam V. N. Philip
Campus size210 acres
Color(s)Black and Gold
MascotThe Martlet

Westminster School is a private, coeducational college-preparatory, boarding and day school located in Simsbury, Connecticut accepting around 20% of applicants. Students come to Williams Hill from 25 states and 30 countries, serving a total student population of approximately 400 pupils [1]. It is also a member of the Founders League, an athletic league comprising ten college preparatory boarding schools in Connecticut and one in New York [2].


Westminster Student Housing, Gund House
Gund House, on the campus of Westminster School, is a student and faculty residence.

Westminster School was founded in 1888 as a boys' school by William Lee Cushing, a graduate of Yale University [3]. Girls were first admitted to the school in 1971. Like many boarding schools, Westminster faced difficult times in the 1970s as it competed for a shrinking pool of boarding students. When Donald Werner retired in 1993, after serving as Headmaster for 21 years, he was succeeded by Graham Cole. During the Cole years, enrollment for the school grew from 340 to 385 students, with 88 faculty [4].

Significant building projects undertaken include:

  • Edge House. Designed by Westminster alumnus Graham Gund and built in 1996, Edge House houses 33 students and three faculty families [5].
  • Kohn Squash Pavilion. Completed in the Spring of 2000, The Squash Pavilion contains eight squash courts around a stepped viewing area with natural light from skylights above. The team rooms, locker rooms, and other support spaces are located on a second floor mezzanine overlooking the viewing area and squash courts below [6].
  • Sherwin Health & Athletic Center. Completed in 2003, the Sherwin Health & Athletic Center, the Hibbard Aquatic Center and the Health & Counseling Center is a multipurpose building. The Aquatic Center contains an eight lane competition pool with support facilities and a viewing area on the mezzanine floor [7].
  • Armour Academic Center. This 85,000-square-foot Center houses the Humanities, Math and Science departments, library, and administration. Building features include a centrally located atrium, two-story library, classrooms and laboratories, 120-seat lecture hall, planetarium, faculty and administrative offices, and a variety of lounge spaces [8][9].

With Cole's retirement in 2010, Westminster appointed William V.N. Philip as its eighth Headmaster. Philip ascended to the top job after a 26-year career at Westminster as a teacher, coach, dormitory parent, college counselor, and most recently Associate and Assistant Headmaster [10].

Faculty and staff


  • William Lee Cushing (1888–1920), first headmaster and school founder[11]
  • Lemuel Gardner Pettee (1920–1922), school faculty member for over 50 years and namesake of one of the school's gymnasiums
  • Raymond McOrmond (1922–1936), namesake of a faculty home
  • Arthur Milliken (1936–1956)
  • Francis Keyes (1956–1970),[12] namesake of the Admission and Development building
  • Donald H. Werner (1970–1993), namesake of the Centennial Center, home to most of the arts on campus
  • W. Graham Cole, Jr. (1993–2010), namesake of the school's library[13]
  • William V.N. Philip (2010 -)[14]

Student activities


Sport Season Boys/Girls Competitive
Cross Country Fall B/G Yes
Field Hockey Fall G Yes
Soccer Fall B/G Yes
Water Polo Fall B Yes
Basketball Winter B/G Yes
Ice Hockey Winter B/G Yes
Squash Winter B/G Yes
Swimming and Diving Winter B/G Yes
Baseball Spring B Yes
Golf Spring B/G Yes
Lacrosse Spring B/G Yes
Softball Spring G Yes
Tennis Spring B/G Yes
Track and Field Spring B/G Yes

A student tradition, dating as far back as the 1920s, is stickball, a game in which teams made up of dormitory floors and day student teams compete in a baseball-like game on the quad and athletic fields in late spring.[15] Each floor makes its own bat, usually a hockey or lacrosse stick that has been cut, or a wooden dowel of a large diameter. Generally the stickball "season" will culminate in a single-elimination tournament to crown the Hill Stickball champion.


Each year the theater program stages three productions in the Werner Centennial Theater: one dramatic production spanning the varied genre of Western theater, a musical production, and the student-directed performances, which offer advanced students the opportunity to direct. Each of these productions offers many opportunities for student involvement and leadership, both on stage and backstage[16][17].

Situated at the northeastern corner of the campus’s central quadrangle, Centennial Center was upgraded in 1988 into a 30,000 square-foot building including a two-story lobby, a 400-seat, multi-use Shakespearean-style theater, music and dance studios and rehearsal room, dressing rooms, a scene shop/laboratory and other production support spaces. Particular to the “courtyard” theater form, all 400 seats are within 40 feet of the front of the stage, and there is built-in flexibility for both audience size and style of production[18].

Campus facilities


  • Cushing Hall - 1900 (originally named Main Building)
  • Memorial Hall - 1928 (remodeled in 1998)
  • Alumni House - 1973
  • Edge House - 1996
  • Squibb House - 2013
  • Gund House - 2013
  • Kelter House - 2017

Academic / Arts facilities[20]

  • Hamilton Art Studios (houses studio art and architecture classrooms)
  • Werner Centennial Center & Theater - 1989[21] (houses theater, dance studios, band/music rooms, practice rooms, and scene and prop shops)
  • Armour Academic Center - 2009

Athletic facilities[20]

  • Pettee Gymnasium
  • Jackson Hockey Rink
  • Hovey Field - 2012
  • Kohn Squash Pavilion - 2001
  • Sherwin Health and Aquatic Center - 2005
  • Michelini Field and Brooks Family Track
  • Osborn Baseball Field
  • Wilbraham Field, Harrison Field, Sawyer Field, and other multi-purpose sports fields
  • Gow and Haynes Tennis Courts

Other on-campus facilities[20]

  • Andrews Memorial Chapel - 1961
  • Armstrong Dining Hall - 2017
  • Brockelman Student Center - 2018
  • Barnes-Bristow Observatory

Former buildings[19]

  • Hay Chapel - 1909-1961
  • East Cottage - unknown-2008
  • Baxter Academic Center - 1964-2009
  • Original Squibb House - demolished 2013
  • Andrews Dormitory - demolished 2013
  • Timken Student Center


Notable alumni include:


  1. ^ "Westminster School Profile (2018-19) | Simsbury, CT". Private School Review. Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  2. ^ "Founders League". Retrieved 2018-10-16.
  3. ^ "Westminster School - The Association of Boarding Schools - TABS". Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  4. ^ "Westminster Facts & Stats, At a Glance | Westminster School". Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  5. ^ "Simsbury Prep School Gets Gift Of $27 Million" (Web article). The Hartford Courant. September 21, 1996.
  6. ^ "". Retrieved 2018-11-20. External link in |title= (help)
  7. ^ "Sherwin Health & Academic Center" Gund Partnership, Hibbard Aquatic Center, Sherwin Health & Athletic Center and Kohn Squash Pavilion
  8. ^ "Armour Academic Center" Gund Partnership, Armour Academic Center, Westminster School
  9. ^ "Westminster School Concludes 125th Anniversary Celebration with Dedication of Two New Residence Halls". Simsbury, CT Patch. 2013-09-28. Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  10. ^ "Tales of the Headmasters Philip". Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  11. ^ FEDERICO, HILLARY. "Simsbury's Westminster School Celebrates 125 Years". Courant Community. Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  12. ^ Francis Keyes, a Headmaster at Westminster School, Dies. New York Times, Dec 13, 1981; p.54.
  13. ^ Buck, Rinker. "The Westminster School Names New Headmaster". The Hartford Courant. Hartford Courant. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
  14. ^ "A Biography of Board Member William V.N. Philip". National Network of Schools in Partnership. National Network of Schools in Partnership. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
  15. ^ Baron, Peter. "A Guided Tour of Westminster School". Admissions Quest. Admissions Quest. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
  16. ^ "Westminster School ~ Theater". Retrieved 2013-11-17.
  17. ^ "Westminster School Drama Association to Present "Urinetown: The Musical"". Simsbury, CT Patch. 2017-01-23. Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  18. ^ "Centennial Performing Arts Center, Westminster School". Gund Partnership. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
  19. ^ a b "Campus Tour | Westminster School | Westminster School". Retrieved 2018-11-19.
  20. ^ a b c Spencer, Nancy (Fall 2018). "Campus Map" (PDF). Westminster School Press: 1.
  21. ^ Anderson, Grace. "Theatrical romance." Architectural Record 178.n9 (August 1990): 90(2).
  22. ^ "Lake Bell Biography".
  23. ^ Philip, B. (2018). Westminster School Fall Magazine 2018. Westminster School Press. pp. Class Notes.
  24. ^ "William "Bill" Sperry Beinecke". Cape Cod Chronicle. Retrieved 2018-11-17.
  25. ^ "Directors and Staff". Retrieved 2018-11-17.
  26. ^ Vidani, Peter. "WILLIAM BEINECKE- 96". Old New York Stories. Retrieved 2018-11-17.
  27. ^ Courant, Hartford. "81 GRADUATE FROM WESTMINSTER SCHOOL". Retrieved 2018-11-22.
  28. ^ "Bryan Nash Gill – The Cornwall Library". Retrieved 2018-11-22.
  29. ^ "ANN SWAIN LANDRETH, EXECUTIVE, WED". Retrieved 2018-11-22.
  30. ^ Writers, RACHEL GOTTLIEB and VAN ALDEN FERGUSON; Courant Staff. "SIMSBURY PREP SCHOOL GETS GIFT OF $27 MILLION". Retrieved 2018-11-22.
  31. ^ Fitts, John. "Avon's Ben Smith Brings Hockey's Famed Stanley Cup to Westminster School". Avon Patch. Patch. Retrieved 16 March 2015.
  32. ^ Leslie, Jacques. "John Tunney, Kennedy's Friend In Muskie's Corner". Retrieved 2018-11-22.
  33. ^ "John Tunney Obituary".

Further reading

External links