Mead Hall Episcopal School today preserves the legacies of three Aiken independent schools – Aiken Preparatory School, established in 1916, The Aiken Day School, established in 1933, and Mead Hall School, established in 1955.
Aiken Prep was founded by Mrs. Louise “Lulie” Hitchcock in 1916 as a boarding school for Winter Colony boys in fourth through eighth grades to teach them to be “junior gentlemen.” The school prepared Aiken Prep students with a classical course of study for high school at America’s most prestigious boarding schools, primarily in the Northeast. Students participated in a range of sports including riding and polo. The emphasis on civility as well as the participation of students in athletics on and off campus are some of the traditions inherited from Augusta Prep. The first three headmasters of the school, Frederick Tabor, Harold Fletcher, and Bob Harrington, provided the school with a combination of seventy-two years of leadership.
The Aiken Day School was founded in 1933 by Mrs. George Mead, Mrs. Robert McKim, and Mrs. McCollough Miller as a Winter Colony school for their daughters and younger sons. After third grade the boys transferred to Aiken Prep while the girls could continue at Aiken Day through high school. The first permanent home of the school was the Joye Cottage Squash Court. From 1967, the school was housed in the former home of Mrs. George Bostwick. Former heads of school included Miriam Prentice, Margaret Radford, Bob Harrington, and Scott Lacher.
Over the years, the landscape of education in Aiken and the Winter Colony had changed. In response to these realities, Aiken Day merged with Aiken Prep in 1989 bringing coeducation and a lower school to Aiken Prep. A year after this amalgamation came the addition of an upper school as well as the end of the boarding program at Aiken Prep.
Mead Hall was established in 1955 as a parish day school under the leadership of the Rev. George H. Murphy, Rector of St. Thaddeus from 1954 to 1957. George H. Mead donated his estate on Coker Spring Road to house the new school as a memorial to his son, George H. Mead, Jr., who was killed in action during World War II.
In the fall of 1957, Joseph H. Harris was appointed Headmaster and remained in that position for the next 27 years. During his tenure, in the fall of 1961, Mead Hall moved to its present location on the grounds of St. Thaddeus Church.
Mrs. Katherine “Kitty” Gordon served as the Head of School from 2003 until her retirement in 2018. During Mrs. Gordon’s time as Head of School, another momentous change occured within the rhythm of school life in Aiken. In 2012, two long established schools joined forces to create a single K-12 program on two campuses in downtown Aiken. With an outpouring of community support, St. Thaddeus Episcopal Church embraced the union of Aiken Preparatory School and Mead Hall Episcopal School. The new school brought together and honored the heritage of both schools.
Ties between Aiken Preparatory School and Mead Hall, along with Aiken Day School run deep. For decades the boarding students at Aiken Prep would walk two blocks on Sunday mornings to worship at St. Thaddeus. One of those boys was George H. Mead, Jr.
Today, Mead Hall enrolls over 300 students with a wide range of interests in academic, athletic, and extracurricular activities. Small class sizes and a rigorous college preparatory curriculum prepare students for a lifetime of learning and leadership. Since 2019, the Reverend Dr. Frank Sawyer has served as the Head of School.
Mead Hall is a member of the Palmetto Association of Independent Schools (PAIS) and is accredited through the Southern Association of Independent Schools (SAIS). SAIS is a regional accrediting organization which supports the operational and instructional needs of member schools. Accreditation must be renewed every five years with a site visit from an SAIS accreditation team. Mead Hall is also a member of the South Carolina Independent School Association (SCISA) through which it participates in academic, artistic, and interscholastic athletic competition.