A Timeline of Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart
October 1998 - Princeton Academy is incorporated as a Sacred Heart school for boys.
January 1999 - Board of Trustees appoints Olen Kalkus as founding headmaster.
September 1999 - Princeton Academy opens with 32 students in Kindergarten through Grade 3 at Our Lady of Princeton.
Fall 1999 - The school received an anonymous pledge of $1 million toward the purchase of a permanent home.
A History of the Manor House at Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart
The Manor House at Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart was originally the home of Helen and Thomas Dignan.
Constructed in 1930, it was the largest and most elegant house designed by Rolf Bauhan, one of the most prolific architects in Princeton in the early and mid-twentieth century.
Helen and Tom Dignan had been married for only a few years when they built their 22 room house. Tom was a member of the class of 1926 at Princeton, where he was a football and baseball star. Following graduation, he held various positions: as athletic director at The Lawrenceville School, in the insurance and motion picture industries, and at one time he was a candidate for the U.S. Congress.
Helen and Tom had four children; three boys and one girl- and they entertained lavishly in their home. The second floor of the house included 11 bedrooms – one for each Helen and Tom, two for the children, two for nannies, and five for houseguests. The society column of the local newspaper reported regularly on the activities at the house, including Tom Dignan’s “riding to hounds” and a tea dance for Dignan’s daughter Nancy. As recorded in 1947 in the Princeton Herald, “Mr. and Mrs. Dignan and their daughters received in the morning room, which was decorated, as was the entire first floor, with bouquets and basket of flowers received by the debutante. Mrs. Dignan was gowned in black satin and her corsage was of white orchids. Miss Dignan wore an afternoon gown of gold lamé.”
At the time the house was built, architect Rolf Bauhan was at the height of his career. A Princeton graduate like Tom Dignan, Bauhan was in the class of 1914 and was the first Princeton undergraduate to earn a graduate degree in architecture from Princeton University. Bauhan designed at least seventy buildings in Princeton and he renovated and designed additions for at least 150 houses and buildings in the Princeton area. Among his other important projects were the original Hun School buildings on Stockton Street (now a part of Princeton Theological Seminary), many of the houses on Battle Road, and the Princeton University faculty houses along Lake Carnegie at Harrison Street. Clients for whom he designed homes included the noted published James Kerney, U.S. Senator Alexander Smith, and Richard North Church, heir to the Church & Dwight fortune.
One of the most notable aspects of the Manor House is the quality of the construction and craftsmanship. The builder of the home was the Matthews Construction Company, by far the most successful construction company in Princeton in the first half of the twentieth century. Their projects include the Nassau Inn and Palmer Square, the Graduate College and most of the Collegiate Gothic buildings on the Princeton campus. Matthews built the Dignan House in 1930 and 1931 at the height of the Depression and the project provided vital labor for the firm’s stonemasons, woodcarvers, and glaziers. During the late 1920s, Matthews constructed the Princeton University Chapel and it is very likely that many of the same craftsmen worked on the Manor House.
The Dignans owned the house until 1947, at which time it was sold to the Marianites of the Holy Cross, who owned the property until the late 1990s. The Manor House retains its original wood paneling, plaster ceilings, and stained glass, and the original landscaping and site are well preserved. The Tudor Revival style of the house was popular in the early 20th century at least in part because of its association with history, literature, and institutions of learning. It is a fitting home for a school and an architectural treasure to be preserved for many future generations.
Spring 2000 - The late William E. Simon, former U.S. Treasury Secretary, recognizing the entrepreneurial spirit of the school’s leadership, offers a challenge gift of $1 million dollars if the school can purchase Our Lady of Princeton mortgage-free.
September 2000 - Second academic year opens with 94 students in Kindergarten through Grade 6.
December 2000 - Our Lady of Princeton property is purchased, having raised more than $2 million and borrowing $6 million. The Simon Foundation extends its challenge for one year - tying its million-dollar gift to the elimination of the mortgage.
September 2001 - Third academic year opens with 157 students enrolled in Junior Kindergarten through Grade 7.
2002 - Princeton Academy meets the Simon Foundation challenge and satisfies the mortgage.
2003 - An anonymous challenge grant of $500,000 inspires the establishment of the The Campaign for Princeton Academy, a $5 million capital campaign. The first eighth grade class graduates and its first alumni gain acceptance to top day and boarding schools. The school receives accreditation from Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.
2004 - Princeton Township grants approval for construction of a new Athletic and Convocation Center.
2005 - The Campaign for Princeton Academy reaches $2.5 million and the school breaks ground on a new Athletic and Convocation Center.
2006 - Princeton Academy receives provisional membership in the Network of Sacred Heart Schools and begins the Sacred Heart Commission on Goals process of reflection and self-evaluation.
2007 - The Campaign for Princeton Academy reaches $4.1 million, and the school obtains approval from the township for the renovation and construction of the Chapel Library, as well as approval for the expansion of the athletic fields.
2007 - The Athletic and Convocation Center is completed and Princeton Academy of the Sacred Heart receives full membership into the Network of Sacred Heart Schools.
January 2008 - William E. Simon Chapel Library is completed and a geodesic greenhouse is built.
2009 - The school receives a gift of property valued at $5 million.
2010 - Board of Trustees initiates the process of selecting architects to begin the schematic planning for the Master Plan build out.
2011 - Donated property is sold for $5 million, and planning begins for the campaign to complete the school’s Master Plan.
2012 - Building for Our Boys, the campaign to complete the Master Plan is launched, as the Board of Trustees pledges $1 million. Construction begins on geothermal wells and demolition of the old Y Wing.
2013 - The Y Wing renovation is complete.
2013 - Princeton Academy wins a Leadership Award for Sustainability from Sustainable Princeton due to the success of the geothermal project made possible through the generous benefactors, Katherine L. Adams and Forwood C. Wiser III.
2014 - Renovation of the new Administrative Wing is complete.
2014 - Princeton Academy announces the appointment of its second headmaster.
November 2015 - The school celebrates the installation of Alfred F. Dugan III as its new headmaster.
2016 - Princeton Academy announces the commencement of its strategic planning process: Epic Vision: Soaring with Heart. The school commits to building a shared vision for the future of the school over the next five years.
July 2020 - Princeton Academy makes history with the announcement of its first female Chair of the Board of Trustees Nicole Sheetz Frith.
September 2020 - Princeton Academy officially announces the change in title from headmaster to head of school with the full support of the Board of Trustees.
March 2020 - The World Health Organization declares COVID-19 a global pandemic
COVID-19 - Princeton Academy successfully navigates the global health pandemic by providing a safe and healthy environment for all students, faculty and staff. The school remained open throughout the pandemic because of an adherence to safety protocols, policies and swift facility updates to ensure air quality.