In the 1840s, long before Hyde School came into existence, Zina Hyde established his family’s estate on a picturesque 160-acre plot of land in Bath, and called it Elmhurst. His son, Thomas Worcester Hyde, served as a general during the Civil War and later founded Bath Iron Works. But it was the general’s son, John Sedgewick Hyde, who collaborated with renowned architect John Calvin Stevens and landscape architect Carl Rust Parker to design and implement the current Hyde mansion, its outbuildings, and surrounding gardens in 1913 

John S. Hyde insisted the city of Bath be part of his ambitious plan. As the Bath Daily Times reported on separate occasions: 

“[Hyde] was willing, with large sums of money and personal influence, to help anything that promised good for his native city. Hyde had employed skilled local laborers to build his estate in an effort “to provide work when labor was in need in this city.” 

When Hyde passed away suddenly in 1917, his magnificent estate passed first to his son, and then, eventually, to his three granddaughters, who opted to donate it to the Pine Tree Society for handicapped Children in 1947. The society made good use of the facilities, even adding a wing to the mansion in 1956 

In the early 1960s, in his position as headmaster at Berwick Academy, Joe Gauld had what he terms a “crisis of conscience” in which he realized a fundamental flaw in our educational system. The system fails many children, he maintained, because it is improperly based on achievement instead of effort, and on aptitude rather than attitude. Instead of merely preparing kids for the academic rigor of college, he felt we should be preparing them for the bigger picture—life. 

Around the same time, the Salk vaccine became commonplace, thus drastically reducing the incidence of polio. The Pine Tree Society realized they no longer needed such a big facility, and opted to pull out of the estate, heading for smaller quarters at Maine Medical Center. By 1965, when educator and Bath-native Sumner Hawley suggested to his friend Joe Gauld that the Hyde estate might be the perfect setting for his new school, the Hyde mansion was vacant. When Hawley invited Gauld to look at the vacant Hyde property, Gauld knew right away it was the right place. “As I stood in the mansion, looking out a window, I started laughing: I could see what the school would be like in the years to come….” 

The rest is history. Hyde School opened in 1966 and began with a focus on Five Words: Courage, Integrity, Leadership, Curiosity, and Concern, and the cardinal principle that every individual has a unique potential that defines a destiny. Soon after the school was established, it was discovered that parents and family play the most vital role in the overall education process. Since character is developed primarily by example, Hyde established a revolutionary Family Program involving parents, teachers, and students working together. 

Today, Hyde School is known as the leader in family-based character education. Its boarding campus here in Bath houses approximately 170 high school and post-graduate students. second boarding campus in Woodstock, CT was operated for 20 years until recently closed, upon the sale of the property to Woodstock Academy. The Hyde organization is affiliated with four charter schools operating in New York, Maryland and Florida using the Hyde School principles. Hyde also owns and operates wilderness programs out of its 600 acre property in Eustis Maine. 

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