The Puget Sound Naval Academy was the basis for the novelThe Academy, written by former cadet Charles W. Lindenberg. For a brief synopsis of the book, and to order a copy click here.
In 1914 Frank Moran acquired 40 acres of prime real estate on Bainbridge Island at Skiff Point, near Rolling Bay, about four miles north of Winslow, Washington. Here he built the Moran Junior College.
The school flourished, but around 1933 or 1934 -- due to economic conditions -- it closed.
Around 1937 Joseph Hill, founder and owner of the Hill Military Academy in Portland, Oregon, bought the entire package for $5,000 in taxes and re-named it Puget Sound Naval Academy.
The academy began operations September 15, 1938. The school was for boys 12 to 18 -- a prep school for the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, and the United States Coast Guard Academy at New London, Connecticut. Lieutenant Commander N.N. Gates, U.S. Navy, retired and a former Annapolis instructor, served as Puget Sound Naval Academy's first headmaster.
The buildings were white stucco, southern Italian architecture. The old Wilson Hall, just below the Greek Theater on the lower campus was destroyed by an explosion November 9, 1932; the wrecked structure still stands.
Day Hall, re-named U.S.S. Dewey, housed the mess hall (military for a dining room) on the first floor, along with complete kitchen facilities. The mess hall also served as the dance hall when the academy held its periodic social functions. The second floor housed the infirmary, classrooms and an instructor's apartment -- the third floor held the living quarters for the junior high school cadets.
The U.S.S. Bainbridge, originally Yates Hall, housed the administration offices and a 200-seat auditorium on the ground floor; a post office and ship's store on the second level; the high school classrooms on the third floor; and the high school cadets' living quarters on the fourth floor. The boys either had a private room or one roommate if they so desired -- unless a large enrollment made roommates a necessity.
The rooms were small which made neatness mandatory. Room and personal inspections held daily soon made order a habit. Even the sloppiest of cadets soon learned that slovenliness lead to something known as demerits. Demerits could also be acquired for a number of offenses. Merits were issued to each cadet regularly and automatically and any infractions of the rules incurred demerits. Cadets having sufficient merits to cover their demerits -- which were issued at weekly Captains Mast -- were okay. Those who ran over either worked off the remaining demerits on work parties or by marching, rifle on shoulder, on the drill field. Each hour worked or marched canceled one demerit.
Along with the regular academic subjects associated with a high school, the cadets also learned naval drill, seamanship and manners becoming a naval officer. Classes were small making inattention virtually impossible.
Puget Sound Naval Academy did not have an outstanding football or basketball team -- there simply wasn't the enrollment. However, in April of 1949, the academy made its presence felt by winning their division in the mile relay, held at Hill Military Academy.
Early in 1950 the owners of the school decided to change its name from Puget Sound Naval Academy to Hill Naval Academy. The cadets, to the boy, resisted the change and continued to refer to "their" school by the original name.
The academy had leased a 136-foot minesweeper from the navy and added it to its fleet.
The ship was powered by two 500-horsepower General Motors diesel engines and the entire vessel was manned by the cadet corps -- several in their early teens.
In June of 1950 the cadets, supervised by school superintendent William Bidwell, sailed the minesweeper to Portland and back, for the annual Rose Festival, and to show off to its sibling military school.
Shortly after the voyage, the ship served as the site for the graduation ceremonies for the class of 1950 -- four cadets in all. Elisa Lindenberg of Welch, Arizona and mother of one of the graduating cadets, captured the day's events of June 15, 1950 on film. A videotape of this film can be viewed at the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum in Winslow.
Once again the economy struck the school and in June of 1951, the final class of cadets graduated from the old academy and shortly after, the school closed forever. Today it is known as Messenger House and its occupants are on the other end of the age scale.
During the 13 years of its operation, hundreds of young men enrolled at Puget Sound Naval Academy, survived the strict discipline and intense schooling and emerged on graduation day as officers ... and gentlemen.
Puget Sound Naval Academy has joined many other private naval and military schools which have since closed their doors. Visit Salute!> for a list of these schools.
Even though the school no longer exists, In the hearts and minds of the former cadets, Puget Sound Naval Academy lives on.
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