Howard Gibbs, an Amherst graduate and friend of Headmaster Frank Boyden of Deerfield Academy, had a vision for a younger boy's boarding school that combined a healthy outdoor life with education. He wanted boys to develop their innate abilities, discover new interests, and gain confidence. Eaglebrook Lodge, a sanitarium and former hunting camp on 27 wooded acres in the hills of western Massachusetts, seemed the ideal place for his school In 1922 Mr. Gibbs bought the property and transformed it and its outbuildings into Eaglebrook School. He enrolled 15 boys that first year.
After Mr. Gibbs’s unexpected death, Thurston Chase, an Eaglebrook teacher and recent Williams College graduate, took over the school. Under his leadership, student enrollment expanded to 165 students, and the physical plant grew to include a gymnasium, tennis courts, learning center, science building, and four new dormitories.
When Thurston Chase retired, his son Stuart Chase '47, assistant headmaster at New Canaan Country School in Connecticut, became Eaglebrook’s Head of School. Stuart Chase saw the school grow to 175 boarders and 58 day students. While he was Head, the school bought 500 adjacent acres and added new playing fields, a track, a modern ski area with snowmaking and a chairlift, two new dormitories, a swimming pool, and a hockey rink.
Andrew Chase ’73, Eaglebrook’s former Director of Development, son of Stuart and grandson of Thurston, is the current Head of School. He and his wife Rachel Blain have three children: Calla ’07, Lucy ’10, and Sam ’12. Numerous programmatical and physical changes to the School and the campus were undertaken during this time. A Chinese Program was added to the World Language Department in 2007. A string ensemble was added to the Music Department’s offerings in 2008. The Eaglebrook Center for Middle School Teaching and Learning was founded in 2017. An administrative restructuring took place in 2018, creating three additional Assistant Heads of School.
The older three dormitories, Halsted House, Flagler House, and Taylor House underwent extensive renovations in 2007. The Sports Center was renovated in 2010. In 2017, after extensive renovations to the existing Learning Center and the Doubleday Building, the Edward P. Evans Academic Center was opened, transforming the center of campus.
The Board of Trustees also experienced a shift, with longtime Board Chair Gerry Mayer ’47 stepping down and Shell Evans ’59 taking on the role of the President of the Board in 2003. Mr. Evans served as Board Chair until 2009, when D. Scott Wise P’08 became President.
Three generations of Chases have remained true to Mr. Gibbs’s vision for his School, and although the School continues to grow in its range of offerings and facilities, it still nurtures young boys and helps them realize their talents. The woods, fields, and mountain trails of the western Massachusetts campus continue to provide students with the healthful life that Mr. Gibbs considered so valuable.
Eaglebrook operates under the umbrella of the Allen-Chase Foundation, a nonprofit educational organization. The facilities of the School, endowed chairs for many faculty positions, a fund for professional development, and the School’s scholarship program are the results of gifts to the Allen-Chase Foundation from generous parents, friends, and alumni. Andrew Chase is a descendant of the Allen and Chase families, both leaders in 19th-century American education.