In the spring of 2004, Bexley Historical Society President, Barbara Hysell, shared with the board a letter from Robert Miller of Tucson, AZ. Mr. Miller, a former Bexley resident, was inquiring about a prep school he remembers as “The Academy”. He knew about The Columbus Academy and stated that what he recalled was definitely NOT The Columbus Academy. After some discussion, the board decided they were not aware of any other prep academy in Bexley.
As fate has a way of intervening, we came into possession of The Capital Spectator, a student magazine at the university. The issues we were given were the June 1925 and June 1926 Commencement issues. One page in each was devoted to the events surrounding graduation; one day being set aside for The Capital Academy graduation.
With a bit of information, we got busy talking to several long-time Cap people. Martha Grimm’s late husband, Dr. Hilmar Grimm, was a Capital Academy graduate. He came from Texas to attend the school. Hilmar, who later became Chairman of the History Dept. at Capital, was an active member of the historical society in its formative years. Ruth Mees Landrum also remembered The Capital Academy. She indicated that the classes were quite small, so the students received what amounted to private tutoring. Ruth also stated that she felt the students were “very brainy”.
Fate again entered the picture at the June board meeting. Carolyn Williams, a historical society member, attended this annual meeting. When the report was given concerning The Capital Academy, Ms. Williams relayed to the board that her aunt, Helen Zucker Smith, was an Academy graduate. The story of how her aunt came to attend this school seems to follow a similar path that other students took – heir pastors played a very active role in recruitment.
Ms. William’s aunt eventually became a member of the largest graduating class from The Academy – 12. This was in 1924. Ms. Williams said that her aunt lived with a professor and his family and helped with housework and childcare, in order to defray some of her tuition. Helen grew up on a farm in the Chatfield/Bloomville area of Ohio. This farm did not have indoor plumbing so, consequently, Helen had never taken a bath in an actual tub. She was admonished by the professor’s wife – as Helen had left “a ring around the tub”. She was quite embarrassed!
From our research, the Capital Academy most likely had its beginnings in the late 19th century. By the beginning on the 1930’s, a this prep school ceased to exist. We don’t know for sure, but surmise The Great Depression was a main cause in the closing of the academy. During its existence, the school played an important role at Capital University. Scanning yearbooks spanning from the turn of the 20th century until the early 1930’s, there were always several of the college graduates who listed The Capital Academy as their prep school.
Robert Miller’s inquiry about a Bexley prep school led us on an investigation and the discovery of a bit of history to add to our Bexley archives.
Adapted from article By Nancy Beck
Bexley Historical Society Board Member
Originally published in Historical Herald, November 2004
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