For over 75 years High Mowing School has been a place where high school students learn and grow. Nestled in the Monadnock region of Southern New Hampshire, our campus was once the family home of Beulah Hepburn Emmet, our founder. There are few alive today who were present when High Mowing first opened its doors in the fall of 1942. But the recollections of our alumni and the history imparted to us by our founder paint a nearly complete picture.

“The fascinating part of this story is that it has no end and that as I set out to seek for a beginning the threads went back and still further back to find--what? The beginning of a human story. But I must start somewhere.”
~Beulah H. Emmet

Beulah Hepburn Emmet (1890-1978) founded High Mowing School in the fall of 1942. A long-time follower of the writings of the Austrian philosopher and scientist Rudolf Steiner, Mrs. Emmet founded a school inspired by the Steiner’s revolutionary educational philosophies. It was the first Waldorf high school to be founded in North America, and today it remains the only Waldorf boarding school in North America.

    • Beulah Hepburn Emmet

      Founder of High Mowing School

From farm to school

Our name, High Mowing, has its roots in New England’s colonial past. The practice of cutting or mowing hayfields to feed farm animals was a long-standing tradition here. According to European custom, these hayfields were often called “mowings” by the early settlers. A “high mowing” referred to a hilltop field—the perfect name for a school with high ambitions for its students. It is also the ideal setting for young adults to grow intellectually, artistically and socially, while living and learning with students from across town and around the world.

Clarity of vision and dogged determination became the hallmark of those early days, as Mrs. Emmet overcame obstacle after obstacle to open her school. These were the War years, and a moratorium on building,  prohibiting the use of metal and wood, were among the challenges she faced. Mrs. Emmet chronicles her journey while founding High Mowing School in her book, From Farm to School.
    • The Weathervane

From Farm to School

Mrs. Emmet recorded the school's story in her book 
From Farm to School. Asked by alumni to write about her experiences, she recounted the school's early days all the way through the fire that destroyed much of the campus.

She ultimately overcame all the initial obstacles. The school gained accreditation in 1944. For many years the school remained the personal property of Mrs. Emmet, but in 1957, at a faculty and trustee meeting, she gifted the buildings and the land to the school. In gratitude, the faculty gave her the right to live on campus, in her house, for as long as she wished.

Though there was a shortage of Waldorf-minded teachers, Mrs. Emmet gathered a faculty who together provided a well-rounded and rigorous high school education. Mrs. Emmet was known for her Art History class, which she would hold in the Living Room of the farmhouse.
    • The Emmet Living Room

Remembering the Fire

The night of January 18th marked a turning point in the school's history. Mrs. Emmet awoke at 1am to the smell of smoke and the word "Fire!" being shouted. It was a cold and icy night, and the fire trucks got stuck on the school's steep driveway. When word reached the top of the Hill that the fire trucks were stuck, HMS alumnus and faculty member Bob PITTMAN '44 got in a tractor and drove it through section of barn that connected the rest of the school to the burning farmhouses. His efforts saved the rest of the school.

No one was hurt, but several of the 1763 buildings burned to the ground. Most of Mrs. Emmet's possessions were destroyed, including all of the Christmas Books, a book made by the students for Mrs. Emmet every year at Christmas. This loss Mrs. Emmet found to be particularly devastating. But a few valuables were saved from Mrs. Emmet' house, including a stone lamb that was present at every Sunday Chapel. To this day that lamb sits on the mantle of the Beulah Emmet Alumni house.

Today, the chapel retains its name and its original function of a space dedicated to students' gatherings around inspirational themes. The chapel building is used for music practice, small gatherings, and a place of quiet retreat from the bustle of campus. In honor of our founder, the gathering of students on a few Sunday evenings each year continues to be referred to as 'Chapel'.

After the fire, the class of 1970 created a new book for Mrs. Emmet and presented it to her on Valentine's Day of that year. The exterior of that book is made from some of the few remaining clapboards of Mrs. Emmett’s house. The book bore a simple dedication:

"At the beginning of a new age,
This book is given with love and hope
To Mrs. Emmet from her school"
    • Bob PITTMAN '44 led the rebuilding effort

Hard work and a community effort made quick work of the fire's rubble once spring came. The school was slowly rebuilt, but not exactly as it was before. As the school recovered in the years following, Ms. Emmet gradually transferred the running of the school to its faculty.

Mrs. Emmet passed away in 1978. The school and its property had long since been gifted to the school, and so when she passed away our founder left behind a legacy that informs the school's modern mission, vision, and values.
    • Mrs. Emmet's new house was built first.

"And so High Mowing goes on building into the future, and I watch it with the feeling that all these thirty odd years of struggle, of careful, steady, hopeful planning have been well worth it."

~Mrs. Emmet, From Farm to School

Off the Beaten Path

Since that time, the warmth and casual comfort of the old farm site have welcomed teenagers from around the globe. Here students experience a rich Waldorf curriculum as they live and work in close proximity to their teachers and classmates. High Mowing is the only Waldorf high school on this continent to offer a full boarding program as well as a day school.

In recent decades both the school and the Abbot Hill community have grown considerably. In 1972 the Pine Hill Waldorf School, now located across the street from High Mowing, was founded by HMS alumna Ann COURTNEY Pratt '50. Pine Hill Waldorf School merged with High Mowing School in 2017 to form a Prek - Grade 12 Waldorf School. In 1986 the Temple-Wilton Community Farm (TWCF), now located down the road from High Mowing, was founded. The TWCF is the longest operating CSA in the country, and is biodynamically-operated.

    • 2003

      The Science and Technology Building is Built

    • 2007

      The Main Building Is Renovated

    • 2015

      Frye Field is Purchased and Conserved

Three major capital campaigns have changed the High Mowing campus in recent years. With the support of alumni, parents, and the wider community High Mowing was able to build a science and technology building, renovate the 1763 barn known as the Main Building, and forever preserve 150 acres of surrounding land.

Today we look back with gratitude and forward with hope. It is because of our faculty's dedication, our founder's example, and the generous support of the school's alumni and parents that we are able to still enact the mission of the school: to offer a program that meets the needs of today's youth; to educate them with love; to foster health of their bodies, wisdom of their hearts, and strength of their minds; and to let them go forth in freedom.

Learn More About High Mowing!

Follow the links below to read more about the High Mowing experience. Please contact us with any questions!

High Mowing School

222 Isaac Frye Highway, Wilton NH 03086
(603) 654-2391 phone     (603) 654-6588 fax
Founded in 1942, High Mowing School is an accredited Waldorf co-educational school serving day, boarding, and homestay students in Wilton, NH, from early childhood through grade 12. HMS is a place to grow intellectually, artistically, and socially while living and learning with students from across town and around the world.  Accredited by NEASC and AWSNA (high school current; lower school in process).