Forsyth School was founded in 1961 as a small preschool in a house leased from the Unity Christ Church on Forsyth Boulevard. Using methods and materials now considered ahead of their time, founder Mary Dunbar established “an environment for creative learning.” Because families wanted their children to stay at Forsyth, a small non-graded primary school was established when a garage became a classroom for 15 children ages 5–7. The School added one class each year through age 12, graduating its first sixth-grade class in 1970. By that year, enrollment had grown to 270 students. In an astonishingly brief period of time, Forsyth grew to become a highly respected independent elementary school situated among most of the major cultural institutions in the St. Louis area.
Forsyth School’s one-of-a-kind campus supports the culture of challenge and defines the educational experience as children grow from grade to grade and move from house to house. The core of Forsyth’s unique campus consists of six historic homes, acquired one by one over five decades since 1965. All six houses were built in the 1920s and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places; each has been repurposed and renovated to provide spacious classrooms, a library, and lunchroom spaces. With three houses each on the parallel streets of Wydown and Forsyth Boulevards, the adjoining backyards create a large courtyard area that has been converted into playgrounds, gardens, and athletic spaces (Sport Court and FieldTurf™ field with surrounding track). Through the years, new construction has augmented Forsyth’s historic buildings with the Rand Center for Performing Arts & Athletics (and Adventure Center), New House Arts Center, science labs, and campus-wide infrastructure updates to support teaching and learning.
Scaled to Size
Forsyth’s campus setting, including six re-purposed, historic homes, contributes a unique element to the climate of the School. Each building, manageable in size for a child, has its own character and identity. Transition by grade from one house to another is viewed as a special rite of passage by both children and their families, allowing students to develop a sense of place as they become familiar with the School, one building at a time. The campus has grown as new property has become available.