July 07, 2014
Members of the Framingham State community gathered in Lexington on July 3rd at the original site of the Lexington Normal School to reenact its opening in 1839.
“When people think of Lexington, they naturally think of the American Revolution and the ‘shot heard round the world,’” said FSU President Javier Cevallos. “But this historic town also witnessed the start of another revolution - one that changed the course of education in our nation.”
Framingham State began as the Lexington Normal School, which opened to three students on July 3rd in 1839. Back then, “normal school” was the name for schools designed to train high school graduates to become teachers (establishing standards, or “norms” for teaching). Secretary of Education Horace Mann inaugurated the normal school system because well-trained teachers were essential to realizing his goals for expanding educational opportunity in the Commonwealth. Lexington Normal School became the first of many public normal schools to open throughout the country, as most states went on to adopt a version of the education system Mann established in Massachusetts.
Today, the former school house, which is located at 3 Bedford Street, is still standing and houses the Simon W. Robinson Masonic Lodge. Members of the lodge and the Lexington Historical Society graciously agreed to help the University put on the commemorative reenactment.
Students from Framingham State’s Fashion Design and Retailing program designed 19th century clothing that was worn during the ceremony by current students Jacqueline Cunniff, Susan Siraco and staff member Jenn Forsberg.
“On a rainy morning, July 3, 1839, three young women - Sarah Hawkins, Maria L. Smith, and Hannah Damon – presented themselves in Lexington, Massachusetts at the nation’s first normal school to begin their studies,” said Dr. Susanne Conley, FSU’s Vice President for Enrollment and Student Development. “Today, we commemorate the moment that American education changed forever.”
Following the ceremony, everyone attendance had a chance to tour the historic school building and Dick Kollen from the Lexington Historical Society gave a special presentation on the history of the school.
About Framingham State University
Framingham State University was founded in 1839 as the nation’s first public university for the education of teachers. Since that time, it has evolved into a vibrant, comprehensive liberal arts institution offering small, personalized classes on a beautiful New England campus. Today, the University enrolls more than 6,400 students with 53 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences and professional fields. As a public university, Framingham State prides itself on quality academic programs, affordability, and commitment to access for all qualified students.