Doane Academy in Burlington City announced Friday that it acquired the former Elias Boudinot School, increasing the small prep school’s physical campus by 15%, but the use of the land is still uncertain.
The academy, which owned the property before selling it to Burlington City in 1955, bought back the land and buildings from the city school district for $450,000, records show. Doane is deciding what the property will be used for, but said in a news release the new space “provides room for the school to expand its facilities and programs to better serve its students and faculty."
Doane, an independent coeducational day school with over 230 students, was founded as an Episcopal girls boarding school called St. Mary’s Hall in 1837. It was renamed Doane Academy in 2008 and currently has students from age 3 through grade 12. It no longer has an official religious affiliation.
“This purchase is about our past, as it reunites us with property that was once part of our campus, but it’s much more about our future,” said headmaster George Sanderson in a news release. “We look forward to determining how the newly acquired property can help us to continue to develop and support outstanding academic and extracurricular programs for our school community.”
Possible bankruptcy threatened to close the school at one point, but a $17 million gift from Henry and Eleanor Rowan in 2015 secured its future, transforming the 178-year-old campus and its enrollment. The endowment is supporting the school in its current state, but “to use it in the way we want to use it, we will have to fund-raise,” Sanderson said in an interview.
The school’s enrollment in recent years has slowly increased, said Sanderson, and that will likely continue. “We will always be a small school. That’s an important part of our identity.”
The property includes two lots separated by Ellis Street, where the Boudinot school building stands. The school was closed in July 2018 because of declining enrollment. It was put up for sale by the Board of Education that year and has since been vacant.
“We had to take advantage of [buying] it now because this is an opportunity that could never come up again,” said Sanderson.