History of Barnstable High School

  • Barnstable High School has a long history. There were several significant attempts at establishing a secondary level school in the town of Barnstable for several decades before the founding of our high school. Among these were Barnstable Academy, 1839; Hyannis High School, 1837; and Hyannis Seminary, 1849. Most of these schools were privately run.
    There was a feeling, however, that these schools were insufficient and that a town-supported high school should be established. In 1871 it was voted to establish a high school in West Barnstable and another in Centerville. Then in 1872 it was voted to establish one in Hyannis. There was a struggle among these three villages over which one would get the school. Centerville soon dropped out of the argument, opening the way to a compromise between the two remaining villages. As it turned out, Hyannis started classes in 1873 and maintained the school until 1876. In that year the village of Barnstable became overseer of the high school. Barnstable High remained in that town for three years until 1879 when it moved back to Hyannis to stay.
    Barnstable's first graduating class did not emerge until 1883. This is understandable when one realizes that while the school was in Hyannis, it was attended only by Hyannis residents. When the school was moved to Barnstable, these students dropped out to be replaced by a new set of Barnstable residents. Then, when the school moved back to Hyannis a new set of students replaced the "dropouts" from Barnstable.
    The first graduating class, of 1883, numbered only two, Miss Phoebe Crowell and Miss Nellie Coleman. From that small class, Barnstable High grew slowly. The class of 1890 numbered only four; by 1895 the graduating class had grown to eleven; 1900, fourteen; 1905, fifteen; 1910, fifteen; 1915, seventeen; 1920, twenty-two. From 1920 on, graduating classes grew steadily, until by 1949 the classes numbered more than 100 students. Now, Barnstable graduates over 350 students per year.
    The school never had a permanent building until 1905 when one was erected in Hyannis. A newer building was built in 1935 which became the 5th Grade Building. This served as the high school until 1957 when the present building was erected. Additional wings were added in 1963 and 1976. The final addition & total renovation was completed in 1998.