About Archmere
About Archmere

Archmere Academy History

Before it became a school, Archmere was the beautiful country estate of John J. Raskob, his wife, Helena Springer Green, and their 13 children. On the 48-acre property was The Patio and The Manor, the Raskob's home and servants' quarters, respectively. Raskob sold his property to the Norbertine Fathers in 1932 and Archmere opened as a boarding and day school for boys that September. Archmere was officially dedicated on October 12, 1932.

List of 5 items.

  • Our Founders: 1910-1931

    From 1910 until 1931, Archmere was the beautiful country estate of John J. Raskob, his wife, Helena Springer Green, and their 13 children. Chairman of the Board of General Motors and Vice President in charge of finance for the DuPont Company, Raskob was recognized as one of the most successful and influential financiers of his time.

    Between 1916 and 1918, the Raskobs had constructed on their 48-acre property an elaborate home, The Patio, a fine example of Italianate, Renaissance architecture, and Manor Hall, a servants' quarters. While the Raskobs lived at Archmere, the house was alive with activity. During the presidential campaign of 1928, Archmere was the scene of many meetings of the Democratic National Committee. Raskob was campaign manager for the party's presidential nominee, Governor Al Smith of New York.
  • Making a Mark in Education: 1932-1957

    The history of Archmere as a college preparatory school began in the spring of 1932 when Bernard Pennings, Abbot of the Norbertine Order, made the risky decision to purchase the Raskobs' Delaware River Estate for $400,000, of which $100,000 was forgiven by the Raskobs. In the spring of 1932, Rev. Michael McKeough, O.Praem. was assigned as the school's first Headmaster. Three other Norbertines and three laymen joined Fr. McKeough to comprise the pioneer faculty. The school opened in September with an enrollment of 22 students; 16 freshmen and 6 sophomores. Archmere was officially dedicated on October 12, 1932, the late Bishop Edmond FitzMaurice of Wilmington presiding. Archmere's growth was gradual but highly gratifying to Fr. McKeough. By 1933, the enrollment had risen to 50 students and by 1934 to 72.

    In the summer of 1936, Fr. McKeough was succeeded as Headmaster by Rev. Daniel Hurley, O.Praem., who faced the challenge of guiding the school through the uncertain years of the Depression and World War II. Yet as the enrollment continued to grow and minor changes were made to The Patio and The Manor to accommodate boarding students. In February 1939, the school's first gymnasium was completed, and by September 1940, The Manor had been converted into a science center.

    The 1930s at Archmere was a decade of triumph over early adversities. Archmere entered the 1940s with a sense of confidence well founded on its successful, although infant, years. During the 1945-46 academic year, illness forced Fr. Hurley to return to the Norbertine Abbey in West DePere, Wisconsin, and until September 1946, Fr. Roger Paider, O.Praem. served as Headmaster. At that time Rev. Justin Diny, O.Praem., who had taught in the school from 1937 to 1944, was recalled from Wisconsin to become the fourth Headmaster in Archmere's history. In his first year as Headmaster, Fr. Diny made the decision to consolidate the school's operations, turning it into strictly a four-year college preparatory institution. The seventh grade was phased out during the 1946-47 school year and the eighth grade the following year. And still, enrollment continued to grow, nearly doubling the 1940-41 figure of 72. Archmere continued its growth as a boarding and day school for boys.
  • Expansion of the Campus and the Student Body: 1957-1979

    On October 12, 1957, the Archmere community celebrated its 25th anniversary. As part of the commemoration, ground was blessed and broken for St. Norbert Hall. It was dedicated on November 8, 1959. Still further construction was required to meet the needs of an increasing student body, and in 1967 the Field House was opened and plans were made for a dedicated science facility. By the end of the 60s, the student body reached 394 (including a noticeable number of sons of alumni) and faculty members numbered 26 (eight Norbertines and 18 laymen.)

    The Justin E. Diny Science Center was dedicated on October 28, 1973. The classrooms and laboratories contain facilities in the disciplines of physics, chemistry, biology and environmental science. The old science laboratory, The Manor, was then dedicated to the Arts, an expanding program of the 1970s which incorporated the school's chorus, band, theater and studio art programs.

    In 1975, facilities for boarding students were discontinued and for the first time in its history, Archmere became exclusively a day school. Archmere announced its decision to become a co-educational institution beginning in September of 1975. Fifty young women became a part of a student body of 372. The presence of girls at Archmere made an immediate impact. During the latter part of the 1970s, the school saw the need to establish a Board of Trustees. The Board held its first meeting on June 16, 1980.
  • Growth & Change: 1980-2003

    The 1980's were years of growth and change. By 1982, major advancements in curriculum and extracurricular activities were underway. When Rev. Joseph McLaughlin, O’Praem. became Headmaster in 1983, the continued expansion of programs in the arts and the enthusiasm of the students for their new opportunities made plain to the Board of Trustees that the school’s facilities were inadequate to meet the demands of an eager, energetic administration, faculty and student body. At the same time, other curricular advancements – the new Computer Science program, the Writing Center, and a broader program in languages – all augmented the pressure to update and enlarge Archmere’s facilities.
    The result was approval by the Trustees to convert some present facilities in St. Norbert Hall to entirely new uses and to construct a major addition to the building. The library was too small to accommodate the needs of the student body, but it would provide suitable space for the computer laboratory, faculty offices, and tutoring services of the language department, The auditorium, now also too small to seat all the students and faculty and too confined for the scale of recent drama productions, would conveniently house a new library and media center on two floors. The new construction would create a theater/auditorium to seat 700. Manor Hall, shared by both art & music students, would be available entirely for work in the visual arts.
    Ground was broken for this project by Abbott Neitzel on March 17, 1982 and the new complex was completed in the fall of 1983. More than half of the student body became involved in the music and drama programs, creating a concert band and chorus, a select choral group known as the Mastersingers and a Stage Band.
    Since 1982, Archmere’s student body has gradually grown to approximately 500 students. These students are challenged by the college preparatory program, guided by 45 full time and 8 part-time faculty. Over the course of the 1990’s, Archmere experienced significant advancements in curriculum as well as athletics. At this time in Archmere’s history, students could participate in over 30 clubs and activities as well as 25 athletic teams.
    In 1997, Rev. Timothy Mullen, O.Praem. ’65 became the school’s sixth Headmaster and the first alumnus to serve in this capacity. The 1990’s have also seen a tremendous growth in technology. The campus was completely networked so that technology could be integrated into classroom instruction, The Writing Center and Computer Lab as well as the Science Labs have all been updated to keep pace with the demands of current technology. In the summer of 1998, the A.V. Room of the Library was converted into a high-tech Computer Multi-Media Center through a generous grant from the Longwood Foundation.
  • Looking Ahead, with Strong Foundations: 2004-Present

    Sadly, on January 29, 2004, Fr. Mullen passed away unexpectedly and Rev. Michael Collins, O.Praem. ’68 was appointed as Archmere’s seventh Headmaster. Fr. Collins served Archmere as Headmaster from February 11, 2004 until June 30, 2004.

    On July 1, 2004 the Board of Trustees selected Rev. John C. Zagarella, O.Praem. as Archmere’s eighth Headmaster. Fr. Zagarella was delighted and excited to be a part of Archmere’s first capital campaign in over 20 years. The Campaign for Archmere: Building on Mission & Heritage was announced in the fall of 2003. The Campaign’s goal included the completion of the Justin E. Diny Science Center, with a media center and two-story physics lab for hands-on learning; the construction of a Student Life Center, which houses the campus dining and worship area as well as a health, guidance and counseling suite; renovations to the Gym’s ground floor (women’s and men’s lockers, fitness center and coaches offices); and athletic field refurbishments. Under Fr. Zagarella's leadership, Archmere renewed its relationship with Daylesford Abbey, ensuring continued support for Archmere's mission as a Catholic school in the Norbertine tradition. On July 28, 2006, Fr. McLaughlin became Headmaster again, completing the remaining four years of Fr. Zagarella’s term; he had been serving as chaplain at Archmere since 2001.

    After Fr. McLaughlin indicated that he would not be available in 2010 for another term as headmaster, the Board of Trustees conducted a search and selected Dr. Michael A. Marinelli, ‘76, to serve as Archmere’s tenth Headmaster, beginning on July 1, 2010. Michael had served as Archmere’s Director of Development from 1984 to 1996. Since taking office, Michael has overseen the move of the offices for Admissions, Advancement, and Headmaster to The Patio.

    Archmere is never at rest. Yet the more Archmere has changed, the more it has remained dynamically in tune with the adventurous Christian spirit that led to its birth back in 1932. Archmere has blossomed and matured through the years precisely because of the people of Archmere, both Norbertine and lay, have never, in either rough or tranquil times, lost touch with the tradition exemplified in the school motto, Pietia et Scientia (Faith through Knowledge).
Archmere Academy is a private, Catholic, college preparatory co-educational academy,
grades 9-12 founded in 1932 by the Norbertine Fathers.