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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.

salisbury today

In January of 2019 longtime Associate Head of School Bobby Wynne P'19 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 William 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.