Founders of Solebury School – 2003 Honored Citizens

STHS_SoleburySchoolLogo_Julian Lathrop was the son of the noted artist William Lathrop. Julian was born in Ohio but moved to Solebury with his family to live in the miller’s house in Phillips Mill. He attended the one-room schoolhouse in Phillips Mill, now St. Phillip’s Church, then attended Worcester Academy and Harvard College. After serving in World War I, Julian studied history at St. John’s College, Cambridge, and was awarded a degree from Harvard. He worked in the summer at Camp Marienfeld in New Hampshire

Laurie Erskin was born in England to parents who were actors. They all came to America when his father brought a touring company.  After serving in World War I in the Royal Flying Corps, Laurie became a bond salesman, but his real love was writing. After a short stint selling bonds, he went to work writing for newspapers and teaching writing. He created Renfrew of the Royal Mounted, a boy’s fictional hero first seen in a magazine, then in eleven books, and eventually heard on radio.

Arthur Washburn and Robert Shaw

Arthur Washburn and Robert Shaw

Arthur Washburn was born in Boston in a distinguished New England family. He was a descendant of Hannibal Hamlin, vice-president under Abraham Lincoln. Arthur graduated from Amherst College and was rejected for service in World War I because of a heart murmur. His great-grandfather founded Robert College, and Arthur taught there for two years. He went on to teach at Moses Brown School and Riverdale Country School. And in the summers he worked at Camp Marienfeld.

Robert Shaw was born in Nova Scotia but grew up in New Jersey. He attended Harvard College and Oxford. He taught at Grace Church Choir School in New York. In summers he also worked at Camp Marienfeld.

William Lathrop and Laurie Erskin

Julian Lathrop and Laurie Erskin

One summer Robert persuaded the camp owners to invite Laurie Erskin to the camp as a storyteller. Thus, the four founders met at a small New Hampshire summer camp for boys. There they discovered that they all had a common interest in a different type of school for boys, much less regimented than the usual high school, but rigorous in requiring high standards of achievement. Julian Lathrop was from Solebury Township and invited Laurie Erskin and Robert Shaw to come to his home area because he thought they might like it. They found the name of our Township charming and named their school for it. So was born the Solebury School, with the first students arriving in the fall of 1925.

The school started with four boys and four teachers. In 1926 the founders purchased the Michener Farm on Phillips Mill Road and moved the school. The school was incorporated in 1928 and reincorporated as a non-profit institution in 1938. In 1949 the Solebury School became co-educational when it merged with the Holmquist School for Girls, which was located just down the road at the corner of Phillips Mill Road and River Road, now the Hotel du Village. Solebury School is today one of the community’s gems and reflects Solebury’s ongoing commitment to education.