Welcome to America's first public school, founded in 1635 – Boston Latin School.
There have been many changes in the physical layout of the school over the last quarter century. From the addition of the Roche Gymnasium in the late 1980s to the arts wing, Keefe Library and dining hall in 2003, much of the building may be new to you. We hope you find these descriptions useful in getting to know the school in its contemporary form.
You enter the school through a fairly new main entrance, part of an addition - inaugurated in 2003 - to the original 1922 building. This structure houses the school’s dining hall as well as facilities that foster study and practice of the visual and performing arts. These impressive additions were made possible thanks to the Pons Privatus campaign. Thank you to all of our supporters for ensuring the remarkable success of today’s Boston Latin School. On your next visit to BLS, please take a moment to reflect on the contributions of the alumni and friends whose names appear on the entrance donor wall.
Fine and Performing Arts Wing
The addition of this space has given students access to practice rooms, a black box theater, ceramics studios, darkrooms and a computer lab for the study of music theory and composition. Today, nearly half of all BLS students participate in the arts. Under the leadership of Program Director Paul Pitts ’73, P'05, '12 they have won acclaim in national music and drama festivals.
Harry V. Keefe Jr. ’39 Library Media Center
The generosity of Harry V. Keefe and family allowed the transformation of our former cafeteria into one of the finest secondary school libraries in the country. Numerous endowed book funds permit the acquisition of hundreds of new titles each year. Special library features include a television studio, archive room, several classrooms, comfortable reading areas, study carrels and numerous computer workstations.
Andrew J.Viterbi ’52 Computer Center
Andrew Viterbi recognized the importance of giving today’s students and teachers access to best-in-class technology. Viterbi’s philanthropy created the school’s first computer lab and partially funds the director of technology position through a permanent endowment. A wireless network provided by Richard Clarke ’68 as well as in-kind donations from Microsoft, IBM and Dell, complemented by generous personal gifts from Lazarus Vekiarides ’86, Thomas Cashman ’78, inter alia, as well as hundreds of annual fund donors has allowed BLS to hold its own on the technology front.
Marshall S. Cogan ’55 Language Laboratory
Named in honor of the school’s first million dollar benefactor, the Cogan Language Lab facilitates the study of French, German, Italian, Mandarin and Spanish. In addition to three years of modern foreign language study, BLS students complete four years of Latin study. Ancient Greek remains available on an elective basis.
Alma Mater Statue
Gracing the ceremonial entrance, the alma mater statue is the symbolic heart of our beloved home. Sculpted by alumnus Richard Saltonstall Greenough, who entered in 1829, it was Boston’s first civil war memorial. On her shield are inscribed the names of Latin School boys who gave their lives pro patria.
Just beyond the head master’s office, you will see the Founders’ Gallery, a space that honors the alumni whose substantial ($1 million+) philanthropy protects the school’s legacy and inspires others to follow their lead in ensuring the school’s prosperity:
T. Vincent Learson 1931/IBM Corporation
Marshall S. Cogan 1955
Harry V. Keefe Jr. 1939
Sheldon Seevak 1946/Seevak Family Foundation
Thomas L. Phillips 1942
Barbara and Patrick E. Roche 1946
Andrew Viterbi 1952
Frederick W. McCarthy 1959
Michael A. Leven 1955
Stephen Corman 1954
Thomas F. Ryan 1959
Sidney D. Wolk 1953
William Schawbel 1957
Raymond D. Nasher 1939
William Schawbel ’57 College Resource Center
The Schawbel Center, generously funded by William Schawbel, chair of the Pons Privatus Campaign, serves members of Classes I and II engaged in college search. BLS seniors continue to earn acceptance to the nation’s most prestigious institutions of high learning.
Frederick W. McCarthy ’59 Institute for Transition and Support
The McCarthy Institute for Transition and Support offers a range of programming including peer and alumni tutoring programs that ensure members of Classes VI-IV successfully rise to the challenge of the school’s demanding curriculum. Today, nearly 80% of entering students reach graduation day not because of diminished standards but because of resources that maximize every student’s chance of success.
Barbara and Patrick E. Roche ’46 Gymnasium
The cornerstone of the second floor and home to many alumni memories is the auditorium (also known as the assembly hall). Gracing the walls of the auditorium are portraits of past head masters, a reminder of our enduring history and tradition. Visit the BLS History webpage to view the head master portraits on display.
As you may have done as a student, imagine your name among historically significant alumni immortalized on the upper frieze. How many do you recognize? One space remains allowing the head master to inspire every entering boy and girl to strive in the Latin School tradition. The lower frieze recognizes alumni whose volunteer and philanthropic efforts have ensured the prosperity of alma mater. Visit the Notable Alumni webpage to see a list of distinguished sons and daughters of alma mater.
A $500,000 National Science Foundation Grant for physics. A recent winner of the Intel International Science Fair. A $1.5 million National Institutes of Health Grant for biology. These are just a few of the recent notable accomplishments of school’s science department. Today’s science offerings are both broader and deeper than they were in generations past, yet the school struggles to keep pace with the talents of its student-scientists and their talented teachers. The BLSA is committed to helping to fuel their achievements.
Sheldon Seevak ’46 Conference Room
The space that formerly housed the school’s library is now home to a large conference and meeting room named in honor of Sheldon Seevak. Seevak and his family endowed and continue to support the school’s national-model Facing History & Ourselves program, among the school’s most popular elective courses. Building on the success of the course, the Seevak family has made possible other innovations, such as the Seevak Human Rights Fellowship. This program is one of several modeled on the John William Ward ’41 Public Service Fellowships, first offered to the Class of 1986.
Nostalgic for the Latin School of yesteryear? Visit room 323. Amidst the upgrades and renovations that have shaped and reshaped our iconic school over the decades, one space is preserved as legacy to the school as it was when the building opened in 1922. This room, situated as it is near more contemporary science labs, exhibits the ideals expressed by a recently adopted unofficial motto: oldest school, newest thinking!