Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content

Finis Origine Pendet

Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, is the oldest incorporated boarding school in the United States. The Academy, widely known today as “Andover,” was founded at the height of the American Revolutionary War in 1778 by the Honorable Samuel Phillips, Jr. A converted carpenter’s shop served as Andover’s first classroom and contained a small group of boys of various ages, among them, a fifer in his father’s militia by the name of Levi Hutchens, who went on to invent the alarm clock; a future mayor of Boston and president of Harvard University, Josiah Quincy III; and John Lowell, Jr., who would one day found Harvard Law School.

Since its auspicious beginning, Andover has stayed true to its original mission, as set forth by Judge Phillips in the school’s founding constitution. In that document, Phillips ordained the school to “educate youth from every quarter,” for, among other noble purposes, the “great end and real business of living.” For more than two centuries, its students and educators have heeded Phillips’s doctrine on the importance of good character in laying the “surest foundation of usefulness to mankind,” because “goodness without knowledge...is weak and feeble; yet knowledge without goodness is dangerous.”

The School Mottos

Paul Revere casted Andover’s unwavering mission thus, personally engraving its official seal, which includes two Latin phrases: Finis Origine Pendet (the end depends upon the beginning) and Non Sibi (not for self). According to the account book of Paul Revere, on April 5, 1782, he received two pounds eight shillings from John Lowell, a trustee of Phillips Academy, for his work. President George Washington visited the academy during its first year as part of his 1789 tour of New England. Upon his return, he recommended the academy to his nephews, who subsequently enrolled in the academy. In 1780, John Hancock ensured that Andover would serve future generations for centuries to come by scrolling his signature to the academy’s articles of incorporation.

Andover is the older of the two Phillips Academies, which are independent of each other. Phillips Exeter Academy, located in Exeter, New Hampshire, was founded three years later by Phillips’s uncle, John Phillips. The two schools have enjoyed a passionate sports rivalry since 1861, making it one of the oldest and most storied school rivalries in the nation.

For a century, Phillips Academy shared its campus and board of directors with the Andover Theological Seminary, which was the first graduate institution of any kind in the United States. The Seminary moved to Cambridge in 1908, leaving behind much of what comprises the center of Phillips Academy’s present-day campus, including Pearson Hall (formerly Bartlet Chapel), Foxcroft Hall and Bartlet Hall. In the 1920s and 1930s, the campus underwent a major expansion around this historic core, thanks, in large part, to the vision and philanthropy of alumnus Thomas Cochran. The campus expansion included the neo-Georgian additions of Samuel Phillips Hall, George Washington Hall, Samuel Morse Hall, Paul Revere Hall, Oliver Wendell Holmes Library, the Dining Commons, the Addison Gallery of American Art and Cochran Chapel. Along with this new construction, at least nine existing buildings were moved to make way for the campus Vista and the Great Lawn.

Merger with Abbot Academy

Andover became coeducational in 1973, when it merged with Abbot Academy, one of the first schools in New England to be founded for girls. Though a fairly recent development, the roots of the merger can be traced back to Andover’s start: Phebe Phillips, Samuel’s wife, played a significant part in Andover’s founding, but her unwavering belief in her husband’s vision came with a caveat: after starting the all-boys academy, Samuel would help her start a similar one for girls. Phebe’s vision was posthumously realized on May 6, 1829, when Phillips Academy trustees opened Abbot Female Academy, later called Abbot Academy.

Generations of Andover alumni have made a significant impact in their communities as mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, teachers and mentors and friends. Among their many accomplishments, PA alums have cofounded Facebook, summited the tallest peaks on seven continents, designed the Bunker Hill Monument, built the first sky scraper, served on the U.S. Supreme Court, won the Nobel prize for economics, served as the 41st and 43rd presidents of the United States, starred in television’s “The O.C.” and “House,” written the screenplay for “M*A*S*H,” invented the telegraph and Morse Code, headed the Smithsonian Institute, won an Academy Award, and so much more.

Innovations in Education

Just as Andover alums have made many important contributions to the world over the years, so has Andover itself played an important role as an innovator in education. Driven by its desire to be “a private school with a public purpose,” Andover has spearheaded the development of such initiatives as Outward Bound, USA; the SSAT; School Year Abroad (SYA); A Better Chance (ABC); and the Advanced Placement (AP). It also supports a variety of outreach programs including (MS)2, IRT, PALS, and Andover Breadloaf. More than 90% of Andover students participate in one of the 45 different community service programs offered by the school.

Since granting its first scholarship in 1779, Andover has taken to heart its mission to serve “youth from every quarter,” continually striving to remove whatever financial, racial and religious obstacles have stood between young scholars and education. It is an “intentionally diverse” community that serves youth from around the country and around the world, and in 2009, it became one of the only private secondary schools in the nation to implement a full need-blind admission policy.


Gospel Choir, made up of at least 50 voices, sings at Kwanzaa, at the annual Gospelfest concert, and at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. celebration.

Back to Top »