It may have appeared “stately” from the outside, but inside the quarters were woefully tight. Sleeping rooms, designed to accommodate four students, measured about 10 by 15 feet, and the four girls shared a single bureau. There was only one dedicated classroom; classes were held in the trunk-filled attic or areas that doubled as bedrooms. Teachers’ bedrooms were the size of a small closet. Fifty people shared a single bathroom!
Though few records of graduates from these early days exist, it is clear that Mary Harrison of Indianapolis, daughter of president-to-be Benjamin Harrison, was a member of the Class of 1876. Others in her class came from Chicago, Illinois; Syracuse, New York; Fall River, Massachusetts—cities of industry and social status.
Bonney, Dillaye, and their well-educated faculty taught girls from about 13 to 17 years of age. The school Prospectus for 1857 offers insight into its educational mission to combine the substantial with the ornamental: “While it is the primary design of this Institution to secure to its pupils a thorough and extended education in the varied Departments of Literature and Science, much attention is paid to Music, Painting, Penciling, and Crayon.” Solidarity with Polish was the school’s credo. Some attention was paid, as well, to the girls’ physical well-being as calisthenics and walking were requirements of the curriculum.