Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
College History



  • 1838-1840 Eliza R. Knight

    Eliza R. Knight, from Ipswich Seminary, became the principal of Wheaton Female Seminary in 1838, remaining until 1840. Miss Knight chose the Seminary motto, “Who drinks will thirst for more” (John 4:13), and designed a related seal containing a fountain. More »
  • 1840-1842 Martha E.W. Vose

    New Principal Martha Vose advised her pupils that “one thing well learned, is better than a dozen, half committed and not half comprehended.” More »
  • 1840-  Library established

    Fanny Morey Wheaton established the Seminary Library with a gift of $100.00. The money was used to purchase Harper & Brothers newly established and pioneering publisher's series, the "Harper's Family Library" of titles in travel, history, and biography. More »
  • 1840 Tuition raised

    Wheaton raised the charge for board to $2.00 per week. Student tuition was $10.00 for each of three twenty-two-week terms. More »
  • Martha C. Sawyer

    1842-1846 Martha C. Sawyer

    A member of Wheaton Female Seminary’s first graduating class in 1839, Martha Sawyer remained at Wheaton to become a full time teacher. After three years of service, Miss Sawyer replaced Martha Vose as principal in 1842. More »
  • 1844-1878 First Gymnasium

    In 1844, a small gymnasium was built between Seminary Hall and the Boarding House (Old Metcalf Hall). It is believed to be the first freestanding gymnasium built at any women's college in the U.S. In 1878, Mrs. Wheaton donated the gymnasium to the Trinitarian Congregational Church, where it was added to the southeast corner and served as the vestry. Renovations of the Church in 1963 included moving this little building to its present location facing Pine Street; it is now called Sweet Hall. More »
  • 1846 Death of Judge Wheaton

    Judge Laban Wheaton, founder of Wheaton, died at the age of 92. His funeral oration was given by the Rev. Sylvester Holmes, Wheaton Female Seminary Trustee and pastor of the Pacific Congregational Church of New Bedford, MA. More »
  • Holmes Cottage, 1913

    1846-1965 Holmes Cottage

    Laban Morey Wheaton built this home for his mother, Fanny Morey Wheaton, after the death of his father in 1846. Originally built on the southeast corner of Howard and Main Streets, it was moved across the street in 1856 when additions were planned for Old Metcalf Hall. The house was sold to Edwin Freeman in 1865, but in 1897 it came into the possession of the Seminary. Holmes Cottage was named for Rev. Franklin Holmes and his wife Mrs. Martha Sawyer Holmes. Martha Sawyer, an 1839 graduate and the principal of the Seminary from 1842 to 1846, married Rev. Franklin Holmes, Wheaton trustee from 1853 to 1859, and they lived in the house that bears their name. More »
  • Zerviah Mitchell's 1846 application letter

    1846 Zerviah Mitchell becomes the first African-American to apply to Wheaton

    In 1846, Zerviah Mitchell became the first known African-American to apply to Wheaton. More »
  • 1847-1849 Elizabeth A. Cate

    In the spring of 1847, Mrs. Wheaton’s personal appeal brought a new principal to the Seminary: Elizabeth A. Cate, a long-time friend of Martha Vose from their days at Bradford Academy. More »
  • 1849-1850 Margaret Mann

    The Board of Trustees elected Miss Margaret Mann as principal in 1849, hoping she possessed the qualities to continue Miss Cate's improvements. More »
  • Mary Lyon Hall, 1938

    1849-  New Seminary Hall / Mary Lyon Hall

    The new Seminary Hall, the main classroom building, was constructed in 1849 to replace "The Sem." Seminary Hall was enlarged in 1878 to include a science wing (south wing), gymnasium and library (west wing), additional classrooms (east wing), grand stairway and cupola. Seminary Hall was first painted yellow and white in 1900. It was named in 1910 for Mary Lyon, a pioneer in American education who acted as a consultant to the Wheaton family at the founding of the Seminary and established the curriculum. More »