Mary C. Wheeler

Mary C. Wheeler

The Wheeler School began with a vision and a gift from Mary C. Wheeler.

In 1889, artist and educator Mary Colman Wheeler expanded her Art Studio to create a School where the "fullness of life" was encouraged and the academic courses developed along the most "advanced lines of education." She was in her 40s.

She began her school with 10 students—children of her friends and former Studio pupils. Because of the high esteem people had for her, Miss Wheeler's school grew quickly. An astute businesswoman, she purchased the Froebel Kindergarten in 1893 and one of her closest friends, Mary Noble, wrote to her at the time: "I received the announcement of your purchase of the Froebel School. How long before you think to annex Brown University?"

By the time of her death in 1920, her school had grown to more than 200 students. Miss Wheeler's School had been honored with an award from the St. Louis "World" Exhibition in 1904, she was presented an Honorary Degree from Brown University in 1914 and she was the United States delegate to three International Congresses for Drawing.

Miss Wheeler's vision for a new type of American education, one that combined the study of art with the rigors of academic pursuit, became her most valuable gift... and The Wheeler School's first bequest.

"My trustee shall (create) a charitable corporation for the purpose of carrying on a... school... of the same general character as the school at present... now existing under the name The Mary C. Wheeler School..."

So began a legacy to help build—from one woman's vision—a school WITH vision.