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Pleasant Hill Academy


Historical Note

In 1883, the American Missionary Association established a one-room day school at Pleasant Hill, Tennessee. Reverend Benjamin Dodge established a Congregational church in nearby Ponoma the following year. Rev. Dodge relocated the church to Pleasant Hill and took over the school's operations in 1885. Two years later the school inaugurated a normal department and became officially known as Pleasant Hill Academy.

Two boarding halls were built in 1889: Pioneer Hall for boys and Wheeler Hall for girls. Two cottages, for use as temporary boys' residences, were constructed in 1895. Dodge Hall, another boys' dormitory, was built the following year. A primary school building was completed in 1899, and a domestic science building was built in 1908. By 1907, enrollment had increased to over 400.

The school began offering a full college-preparatory course in 1891. The Rev. Warren E. Wheeler and his wife, Kate Lord Wheeler, assumed the directorship of the school in 1892. Rev. Dodge passed away in 1897, and Kate Lord Wheeler died in 1903. Mrs. Dodge donated farmland to Pleasant Hill Academy in 1911, and passed two years later.

The AMA transferred the Pleasant Hill Church to the Congregational Home Missionary Society in 1916. Rev. Edwin R. Wharton replaced Rev. Wheeler upon his retirement, and emphasized manual arts for boys and home economics for girls. His wife, May Cravath Wharton began work as a medical missionary for the AMA in 1917. In 1918, the school functions at the Grand View Normal Institute, also in the Cumberland region were transferred by the AMA to Pleasant Hill Academy in 1918.

Dodge Hall burned down in 1921. Around the same time, repairs to Wheeler Hall were completed and a new barn and temporary boys' residence were built. During the early 1920s, the school received running water and electricity for the first time, but by 1922, attendance had fallen to a low of 167.

Principal William H. Trainum resigned, and was replaced by Paul Andrew Wilson. Wilson resigned in 1925, and was succeeded by Edgar H. Elam. Victor Obenhaus served as the Principal until 1944, when Walter Mueller took the position. In 1945 the AMA voted to sell the campus site to the Board of Education of Cumberland County, Tennessee, retaining all farmland and establishing a community center in 1947. William A. Boyce was hired as the Director of the Pleasant Hill Community Center, with Viola W. Rainey being hired as Business Manager. Mueller became Minister of Education at the First Congregational Church in Los Angeles later that year.

The 1947-1948 academic year was the last one during which boarding facilities were available. The county and state operated a twelve-grade consolidated school and the AMA supplied four value-oriented teachers to supplement the county's curriculum.

An arts and crafts building was dedicated at the Pleasant Hill Community Center in 1950. Boyce moved on to take a position at the Cumberland Medical Clinic in 1954. Dr. Paul Reynolds became the new Director of the Center, as well as the Minister of the Pleasant Hill Community Church that same year; he later retired after suffering a heart attack in 1957. A new Pleasant Hill Community Church was completed in 1959.


American Missionary Association archives 1969 addendum

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

American Missionary Association archives addenda

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 001-1
Scope and Contents The 1969 addendum and later addenda to the American Missionary Association archives are mostly twentieth century in scope, covering two main subject areas. The first is the association's numerous schools. These are considered "field" records, or, the fruits of the Association's missionary work outside of its New York City office. The Addendum is divided into three series: Series 1 covers field-related work, mainly the AMA schools; Series 2 covers projects that were run directly form the New...
Dates: Created: 1849-1991; Other: Date acquired: 03/31/1969