OUR BEGINNINGS IN 1900
Gill St. Bernard's is the result of the merger of two schools in Somerset Hills — St. Bernard's School for boys in Gladstone, and The Gill School for girls in Bernardsville. St. Bernard's School was founded in 1900 by the Rev. Thomas A. Conover. It was his vision to establish a school for farm and village boys where they could be educated while learning a trade. The first group of boys came to St. Bernard's in September of 1900. Tuition, room, and board was $100.
In the early days, academic classes alternated with work in the carpentry shop, the print shop, or on the farm. Daily attendance at religious services was mandatory. In 1912, the highest award for a student was established, and has been given ever since, the Julian T. Brown Cup. It was given to the school by Brown's mother in memory of her son who died shortly after graduation. The actual silver cup was inherited from an ancestor who owned the plantation next to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. Tradition held that the author of the Declaration of Independence had used the cup. Recipients of the award have their names engraved on it, which resides in Hockenbury Hall.
THE 1930s AND 1940s
In 1945, Rev. Robert L. Clayton, Jr. was named Headmaster. He brought a broader vision of programs to St. Bernard's, when it first embraced the concept of academic excellence. The emphasis increased on scholarship, with an aim to integrate the education program with the needs of industry. The work program still played a large role in the philosophy of the school, as the college preparatory program began to grow.
The Gill School was established by Miss Elizabeth Gill in 1934 as the Wychwood School. Her educational philosophy was based on the value of the individual, and she sought, through small classes and direct teacher-student relationships, to establish a "rich school experience" for her students. The physical development of the individual was encouraged, with at least two hours each day spent outdoors. The first graduating class consisted of three students.
THE 1960s AND 1970s
The 1960s and 1970s were turbulent times for the country and for education in general. Coeducation was becoming more fashionable and, in 1972, St. Bernard's School merged with Miss Gill's School to become Gill St. Bernard's. At this time, the religious affiliation of the St. Bernard's School was discontinued. The new school had younger students on the old Gill campus in Bernardsville, and older students at the St. Bernard's campus in Gladstone.
THE 1990s TO TODAY
In 1996, the two divisions consolidated in Gladstone. Today there are three divisions—a Lower, a Middle and an Upper School—located on 208 acres, which span the Somerset-Morris County line between the Borough of Peapack-Gladstone and Chester Township. Today the school consists of over twenty buildings, including Upper, Middle, and Lower School facilities, two athletic centers, a performing arts center, and four administrative buildings. There are also an athletic center, field house, field lodge, five playing fields, including an all-weather turf field, a track, seven tennis courts, an outdoor swimming pool, and a sustainable working farm called Home Winds.