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Hilltop History

Salisbury School has been graduating men of character for more than 100 years.  We are a school where tradition matters.

The School's Founding Headmaster, The Reverend George E. Quaile opened Salisbury School in 1901, after serving as Headmaster of St. Austin’s School on Staten Island in New York from 1894 to 1901. Dr. Quaile was a man of rare moral leadership and broad vision. He purchased the original tract of land amid the rolling Berkshire hills for the present site of Salisbury School, selecting property that was originally an apple farm. The historic Main Building was constructed under Dr. Quaile’s direction and was the centerpiece of Salisbury School as an independent college preparatory school. After his death in 1934, Dr. Quaile was succeeded by his son, Emerson B. Quaile, a Salisbury and Yale graduate, who was then serving as a Master of Latin at the neighboring Hotchkiss School. The Depression years stalled the growth of the School, as Mr. Quaile had the arduous task of maintaining traditional academic standards in a lean financial era when student enrollment sharply declined. His untimely death in 1942 ended the burgeoning career of a charismatic and dedicated Headmaster.

Campus Expansion

The Reverend George D. Langdon succeeded Emerson Quaile, and with the blessing of the Board of Trustees, Mr. Langdon initiated an expansion program which resulted in a complex of new school buildings. A growing enrollment and a maturing of the academic program accompanied the development of the physical plant. After Mr. Langdon’s retirement in 1965, further enhancement continued under his successor, The Reverend Edwin M. Ward.

Traditions and Values

During the 16 years of Rev. Ward’s stewardship, Salisbury stuck firmly to its established traditions and values through a period of turbulence in American education and emerged as one of the finest all-male schools in America. Upon Rev. Ward’s departure in 1981, The Reverend Peter W. Sipple of Oregon Episcopal School was appointed Salisbury’s fifth Headmaster in its eighty-year history.

Centennial Celebrated

Mr. Richard T. Flood, Jr., Dean of the School at Noble and Greenough in Boston, MA, was appointed Salisbury’s sixth headmaster in 1988. Under Mr. Flood’s 15 years at the School, Salisbury celebrated its Centennial (in 2001) and saw extensive building in conjunction with that celebration. Most notable were the building of the Wachtmeister Mathematics and Science Building, the Centennial Humanities Building (which also includes the Phinny Library, the Ruger Fine Arts Center and the Tremaine Art Gallery), and athletic fields on the north side of Route 44.


In November of 2002, Mr. Chisholm S. Chandler was appointed to succeed Mr. Richard T. Flood. Having served the Salisbury School admissions and college offices successfully after he graduated from Brown University, Mr. Chandler became the seventh headmaster in July of 2003.  Under his leadership, recent additions to campus include the state-of-the-art Flood Athletic Center (winter 2010), the Class of 2012 entrance to the Main Building (fall 2012), four new single-family faculty homes (fall 2015), and the William E. Buehner Digital Media Lab (fall 2015).   A recently completed capital campaign raised over $108,000,000 for the School. Gifts financed a wide variety of projects and programs including seven endowed scholarships, four teaching fellowships, ten endowed funds, the renovation and restoration of our Main Building, turf field stadium seating and the Class of 2013 Global Classroom and Video Conferencing Center.

In summer 2016, Salisbury began the restoration and renovation of the Main Building's north wing, Spencer Hall.  Main is Salisbury's "signature" building, marking this project as one of the most extensive restoration projects ever undertaken on the Hilltop, given the size, age and varied roles and functions of those that Spencer Hall serves. 

salisbury today

In January of 2019 longtime Associate Head of School Bobby Wynne fulfilled the role of Acting Head of School while Mr. Chandler began his transition from the Hilltop after a successful 18-year commitment to Salisbury.

July 1, 2022, marked the official start of Salisbury's eighth Head of School Will Webb's seat at the helm.

Good To Know:

The Sarum Hymn:
The Sarum Hymn was written by E.W. Parmelee, master at Salisbury from 1909 through 1927, and is sung to Haydn's St. Anthony Chorale. To listen to the Salisbury Gospel Choir sing the Sarum Hymn (stanzas one and four) Listen Here!

The Salisbury Motto is Esse Quam Videri, which originates in Sallust’s Bellum Catalinarium, 54. Sallust compared Cato to Caesar and wrote that Cato preferred to be virtuous rather than appear to be so. Consequently, the less Cato sought recognition, the more he found it. “To be rather than to seem to be” is an affirmation of personal honor at the heart of the Salisbury experience.

Sixth Form Privileges:
All sixth formers are entitled to wear a blue blazer with the Salisbury crest on the left jacket pocket. Graduates at commencement exercises traditionally wear a school blazer and white slacks. The “senior steps” are restricted to sixth form students.