Wellesley Historical Society

Academy of the Assumption - History Mystery, March 2015

Monday, March 16, 2015

March 16, 2015 - Question

The buildings pictured above were once part of a religious school in Wellesley. The buildings on the right no longer exist, but the building on the left has been enlarged and is now part of a college campus in Wellesley. Can you guess which college this building belongs to and what religious organization it once served?  Return on March 31st to find out the answer!

March 31, 2015 - Answer

The Gothic building on the left is currently part of the Massachusetts Bay Community College but originally served as the administration building for the Academy of the Assumption. The Academy of the Assumption was founded in 1893 by the Mother Seton Sisters of Charity of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and operated as a religious school for almost 80 years. The academy started as a boarding school for girls and expanded over the years to include boys and day students. The school was located at the intersection of Route 9 and Oakland Street in Wellesley, and the image above depicts the school in about 1931 as viewed from Route 9.
The house with a turret pictured on the far right was built in the early 19th century by J. S. Bird and later owned by the Scudder and Hollis families. This house was used as the main building for the academy when it opened in 1893 and it was commonly referred to as the “Scudder mansion” by the school and townsfolk. An 1888 atlas at the Wellesley Historical Society shows that the estate purchased by the academy also included several houses, barns, and outbuildings that are not visible in this image. The Academy of the Assumption decided to expand the school by building Seton Hall in 1895; this three-story building is visible to the left of the Scudder mansion. The Gothic-style administration building on the far left of the image was built in 1921 and is the only building from the 1931 image that is still standing today. The academy made two significant additions that connected to the administration building in 1953 and 1965, but put the property up for sale in 1971 due to financial difficulties and closed in 1972. 
The town of Wellesley considered purchasing the Academy of the Assumption property but the idea was ultimately voted down by Town Meeting in 1971. The land and existing buildings were purchased by the state for about $5.4 million in October of 1973 and became the new home of Massachusetts Bay Community College in November of 1973.

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