Frederick Smith (’10) was appointed Headmaster and transformed a weakened school into the vibrant college preparatory New Hampton School for Boys. Despite the Great Depression, the school grew to more than 150 students.
By 1925 NHLI was a shadow of its former self, with an ever-shrinking enrollment and buildings in disrepair. Concerned Trustees reached out (for the third time) to 1910 NHLI alum, Frederick Smith (Bates B.A., Harvard M.A.) with a plea that he lead his alma mater into the future. Smith, whose parents and six siblings were alums, and whose father had been Chair of the Board of Trustees, left a lucrative position in Mexico City to orchestrate a dynamic transformation of the school. With contagious enthusiasm, a commitment to finding financial aid for “worthy boys, and the support of his elegant wife, Grace, he was able to enroll 100 new students for September, 1926, (in addition to the 10 slated to return) while renovating the campus and overhauling the curriculum.5 The transformation to an all-male college preparatory program was soon emulated by a number of other New England academies, including Tilton, K.U.A., Proctor and Vermont Academy. During his thirty-three year tenure (1926-1959) enrollment and the program continued to grow, including an increase in facilities, athletic programs and other co-curricular activities. The New Hampton School for Boys became The New Hampton School in 1951.
The following word-portrait captures the essence of the indomitable Frederick Smith:
The indispensable ingredient in the flavor of New Hampton School was the personality of the Headmaster himself. Amid the many goings and comings of students and faculty during his long administration, his was the same hearty laugh, quizzical smile, and jovial nature which impelled action and inspired respect. His ruddy face, decisive voice, and direct manner highlighted an active and fertile intellect which never seemed at a loss for a plan of procedure. His remarkable memory for names and faces, his genial love of people, and his ease of personal contact and approach earned him hosts of friends throughout New England. He was an indefatigable salesman for the school, traveled far and wide in an effort to build up its clientele, and he had the businessman’s sense of values in promoting School welfare so often missing in the professional person. A great follower and participant in sports himself and long a fine tennis player, he inspired a generation of boys with the sportsmanship and manly virtues which come from a love of out-of-door activities. He was also a fine English Scholar and showed his New Hampton training in the ease and fluency of his speaking. All in all, he made a unique impression on any boy which was to last for life.6