Rye Country Day School had its beginnings in 1869, when a group of local parents, wishing to improve the quality of education available for their daughters, contacted The Reverend William Life and his wife, Susan, who ran a small school in Pennsylvania. The Lifes came to Rye and established The Rye Female Seminary under the direction of Mrs. Life. During its first year - 1869 - sixty students (25 boarders and 35 day students) enrolled in The Seminary, which was located on the present school property on Grandview Avenue.
From the beginning, the School set out to educate the whole child, emphasizing not only academic excellence, but broad humanistic values and community service, as well. Today, these very same values are at the heart of the School's philosophy and are reflected in the school motto: Not for Self, but for Service.
In 1896, The Seminary was purchased by the Misses Harriet and Mary Stowe, two members of the faculty. Upon assuming leadership, the Stowe sisters initiated significant changes in the curriculum. During this period, The Seminary was at the forefront of a national trend, namely the introduction of college preparatory programs for women. Conscious of the potential financial risk for a strictly proprietary institution, a group of parents bought The Seminary in 1917 and established it as a nonprofit day school under the direction of a board of trustees.
The year 1921 saw The Seminary merge with a boys' school from nearby Harrison - The Rye Country School - and became known as The Rye Country Day Schools. In 1928, the "s" was dropped from the word "Schools," signifying unification into a single, well-integrated institution. To accommodate the presence of boys, the campus experienced a period of growth and development. At this time, the School offered a program for girls from kindergarten through grade twelve, and a program for boys from kindergarten through grade nine. It was not until 1964 that this pattern of organization was changed, when the Board of Trustees extended the enrollment for boys through grade twelve.
Over the years, additional property was acquired, buildings were constructed and roads moved, all with the help of many generous friends, families and alumni. The appearance of the campus today is not one that the Lifes or the Misses Stowe would have recognized. Each generation that has passed through has added its mark and improved the facility to meet its particular needs. From the construction of the Main Building in 1924, to the additions of the Pinkham Building and the La Grange Field House in the sixties, the Dunn Performing Arts Center in the eighties, and the most recent changes that include the new Lower School classrooms, a new dining center and the unveiling of the Nelson Athletic Center, the Rye Country Day campus has kept pace with the needs of its community. Today 850 students in grades pre-kindergarten through twelve enjoy a state-of-the-art facility while remaining fully conversant with the traditions and expectations of the School's founders.
Susan Life founds The Rye Female Seminary and becomes first Head.
Harriet and Mary Stowe purchase The Seminary.
Parents purchase The Seminary from the Stowes and establish it as a non-profit with a board of trustees.
The Seminary merges with a local boys' school to become The Rye Country Day Schools. Chauncy W. Waldron elected director of the schools
Construction on the Main Building is completed.
Morton Snyder becomes Headmaster.
Gerald N. La Grange appointed Headmaster.
School enrollment: 486; the graduating class: 16 girls
Middle School wing constructed on the Main Building
The School purchases the White House on the Boston Post Road
NY State purchases the School's playing fields south of the Main Building and begins construction on I-95.
Girls' Gym (current L.S. Multipurpose Room) constructed.
The School purchases 7 acres north of the campus for athletic fields.
Upper School becomes co-ed.
The Pinkham Building is constructed.
The Gerald N. La Grange Field House constructed.
Ron Penny appointed Headmaster.
W. Lee Pierson appointed Headmaster.
The Klingenstein Library opens.
The Edward B. Dunn Performing Arts Center constructed
Scott Nelson appointed Headmaster
Grandview Avenue is rerouted around the campus and the Khoury Courtyard is constructed around the School's new front entrance. The Scott A. Nelson Athletic Center opens.
The Main Building Addition, containing enlarged Lower and Middle School classrooms and a new dining center, opens.
The School completes its artificial turf athletic field project (four fields).