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Hyannis State Teachers' College

Barnstable, Massachusetts




It is said of a college in Overland Park, Kansas, that even if you have no interest in attending there, it would be nice to make enough money to stay overnight there.  The same is likely true of Hyannis State Teachers' College, located near the Kennedy Compound at Hyannis Port.  However, through the generosity of Bridgewater State University in sharing their Hyannis Normal materials, I was saved some of the expense of researching there.


Hyannis State Teachers' College was founded in 1897 as Hyannis Normal School.  From 1897 until 1932 Hyannis trained only elementary teachers.  Its two-year program focused on psychology, pedagogy, school management and Massachusetts school law in the first year.  During the second year, students observed in the training school for 6 weeks and taught for 15 weeks. 


A number of changes occurred in 1933.  First, male students were readmitted after a decade-long absence.  Second, the program began to train secondary teachers.  And third, the program was increased to three years.  In 1934 a fourth year was added.  In 1937 the school added a summer session of courses leading to a master's degree.  The first master's degree was awarded in 1939.


The website Hyannis State Normal School 1897-1944, sponsored by Bridgewater State University suggests that students found attending Hyannis State to be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. Students and teachers shared dormitory space in a family-like atmosphere.  The “Hyannis Spirit” came from a school philosophy of living a “balanced” life.  After a morning in the classroom, students spent their afternoons making field trips, performing in drama groups, taking walks, or playing tennis.  The website further notes that students were expected to be active participants in all facets of school life


The “Hyannis Way,” a teaching/learning philosophy developed by William A. Baldwin, the first principal, was to connect the work of the schoolroom with out-of-school projects.  In one of these projects, the school had a garden for which students were required to research, plant, till, harvest, and market products, using profits for more school projects.  Students also built a poultry house for breeding and growing chickens, a project which helped many students pay their expenses.  In the same way, many students took manual training classes, learning weaving, sewing, and carpentry,


With the onset of World War II, enrollment of male students fell off.  By 1944 total enrollment had dropped to the point that the school was forced to close.























Bricks and Mortar

Hyannis State Normal campus was originally a three-building campus—the administration/classroom building, the training school, and the dormitory.  Though destroyed by fire, all were rebuilt and ready for the opening of the school in 1897.  The school later received a fourth building—the principal’s home.  The Massachusetts Maritime Academy shared the campus 1942-44 and occupied it until moving to Buzzard’s Bay in 1948.  From 1948 until 1960 Cape Cod Community College used the buildings.  The campus then passed to the town of Barnstable.  At present the main building serves as a town hall and the dormitories serve as office buildings.




Barnstable Town Hall today.  Photo by John Phelan (<,_Hyannis_MA.jpg>) C-C by 3.0  accessed 10-18-2017


     Colors: Green and White


Almost from the beginning, Hyannis Normal School students spent an hour each day in some form of physical exercise. A popular form of exercise was basketball.


 In 1935 Hyannis built athletic fields with the help of PWA funds.  These led to a strong intramural program as part of the balanced life the school advocated.  In the mid 1930’s Hyannis began fielding athletic teams. Newspaper accounts show teams in football, basketball and track.   College Football Data Warehouse shows a football team between 1937 and 1940.   A photo of the football team shows only 21 players, reflecting a shortage of male students at the school.  As might be expected, wins were rare.  The 1940 team had a 1-5 record, the only victory coming over Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Losses were to Lowell (MA) Tech, New Britain (CT) Teachers, Bergen (NJ) Junior College, Hofstra (NY) College, and Norwich (VT) College.  

Women’s basketball team, 1899 (Image courtesy of Clement C. Maxwell Library, Bridgewater State University 

Note: Images are used in accordance with their “terms of use” as I understand those terms.  Recopying or republishing these images may be restricted or forbidden.

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