In the mid 1930s, Henry C. Patey, a Boston psychologist, and Adelaide W. Patey, a teacher of French, Spanish, and music at Dana Hall school, welcomed into their home a bright, sensitive 11-year-old boy who was having extreme difficulty in school and at home. The boy came from a good family, but no matter what the parents tried, they were unable to bring the boy out of his upset moods and disturbing behavior. At that time, there were few options for such a child except long-term, perhaps life-long, institutionalization.
In desperation, the boy’s parents pleaded with the Pateys to allow the boy to live with them. The Pateys welcomed the boy into their home. He thrived there and eventually went on to a boarding school, World War II, college, a career as an engineer, and a happy family life as a husband, father, and grandfather.
Meanwhile, other parents facing similar severe difficulties with their bright, intense children sought the Pateys’ help, and the Patey home was filled with children and adolescents. Eventually, in 1947, they decided to turn their home into a school and they acquired property in Mason, New Hampshire. A year later the historic Timbertop property in nearby Rindge became available; and in December 1948, just in time for Christmas, the school officially opened at its new (and current) location as Hampshire Country School.
There have been many changes in the 65 years since Hampshire Country School was founded. Enrollment has been as large as 100 students and as small as a dozen. For many years the school enrolled both boys and girls. During some periods of its history, most students were high school age and older, and at other times the school has served mostly younger children.
Despite such changes, the basic mission and principles have always been the same: First, the focus of the school has always been on students of very high ability who have had serious difficulties in other settings.
Second, consistent with its beginnings in the Patey home, this has always been a family-style school, and life outside the classroom has always been as important as classroom instruction. Living and playing together after school, in the evening, and on weekends have remained as central to student life and growth as are classes and scheduled activities.