History of MacDuffie

Founding Years

  • In 1890 John and Abby MacDuffie purchase The Howard School and found The MacDuffie School in the Samuel Bowles House on Central Street in Springfield, MA with 70 students.
  • The MacDuffies are committed to offering young women access to the same excellence in education that they experienced at Harvard and Radcliffe by providing a rigorous college preparatory curriculum..
  • In 1896 MacDuffie holds its first graduation ceremonies at The George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum at the Quadrangle in Springfield, MA.
  • The School flourishes under John and Abby’s leadership and they retire in 1936.  Their son, Malcolm MacDuffie, takes over as Head of School.

Growth Years

  • In 1941 Ralph and Cleminette Rutenber become Head and Associate Head of MacDuffie, and a time of growth and expansion begins.
  • In 1956 the Andrew Wallace estate becomes part of campus, and Castle, Caswell, Lemire and Tifft properties on Ames Hill Drive soon follow.
  • Under Ralph and Cleminette’s leadership the School’s reputation for academic excellence and character development soars, as does enrollment.
  • In the 60’s MacDuffie launches an ambitious building campaign resulting in a new classroom building, Rutenber Hall, and Downing Gymnasium.
  • In the early seventies, the School’s student body increases to its highest enrollment of 350 girls, half boarding and half day students.

Changing Times

  • Bobette Reed Kahn, the first African American boarding student, graduated in 1969.
  • The Rutenbers retire in 1972 after leading the School for 31 years.
  • With the acquisition of Young House (1979) and the Red Cross building (1983) MacDuffie’s unified 15 acre Ames Hill campus is complete.
  • During the tenure of Michael Cornog in the 90’s MacDuffie becomes coed and transforms its boarding program to focus on international students.  The first sixth grade enrolls in 1990, creating a fully integrated Middle School.
  • Under Kathryn Gibson (1999-2010) MacDuffie enters the 21st century fostering intellectual habits of mind, high academic standards and respect for diversity, reaffirming the MacDuffies’ original college preparatory vision.
  • MacDuffie celebrates 120 years of academic excellence in 2010.
  • A devastating tornado ravages the Ames Hill campus on June 1, 2011, the last day of classes for the school year. The storm destroys Macduffie’s beautiful magnolia trees and leaves buildings badly damaged but still standing.  All of the students, faculty and staff on campus take shelter in Rutenber Hall basement and survive without harm.

A New Day

  • In June, 2011 MacDuffie begins a new chapter of its history and moves from Springfield to an expansive campus in Granby, MA.
  • On opening day in September, 2011 MacDuffie welcomes 200 young and eager students from 30 Western New England towns and cities and 16 countries from around the world.