History of Mount Ida College
Mount Ida College operates as a private not-for-profit institution and shares a rich history.
Mount Ida has taught students in a variety of formats: from being an all girls’ finishing school complete with laundry classes to junior college to today’s thriving undergraduate and graduate programs, Mount Ida College has been enriching students’ lives since 1899. Founded by George Franklin Jewett and Abigail Faye Jewett, the school was located on Mount Ida Hill in Newton Centre. The Jewetts’ school strove to give education to women decades before most institutions.
The school closed during the Great Depression and was reopened by William F. Carlson and his son F. Roy Carlson in Newton Center in 1939 on land formerly owned by the Shaw family. In 1964, President Roy Carlson’s wife Ivy Carlson saved an eighteenth century colonial farmhouse formerly known as Miss Peabody’s Tea House from demolition. The house is believed to be the second oldest house in Newton. The Carlsons bought it for $1 and had it moved to Mount Ida’s campus, where it is now known as Boulder Farm. The house has been used by the college in many ways as a way to preserve the history of the area from a residence to members of administration and their families to an event space.
The college worked towards providing a strong junior college education. Mount Ida was officially accredited as a Junior College in 1961. The programs grew in technology with a Link Trainer Flight Simulator for the Air stewardess program and a fully equipped lab in Holbrook for Science majors. Taking advantage of the G.I. Bill, the school became coeducational after the Vietnam War in 1976. The school continued to grow as more majors were added. In 1983, the Department of Education named Mount Ida’s Liberal Studies program one of the fifteen educational innovations in American Higher Education.
Innovation has always been at the heart of the college. As the college grew, several mergers occurred with Chamberlayne Junior College in 1987 and the New England Institute of Applied Arts and Sciences in 1989. The two institutions brought many popular and academically rigorous programs such as Funeral Service and Fashion Merchandising. The Two-Plus-Two model, a program bridging the gap from associate to bachelor degrees, helped develop multiple paths of education for students. The program was recognized by the Boston Globe as the first of its type in Massachusetts. Bachelor degrees were added to the catalogs in 1990. The Honors Program began in 1995 and thrives to this day. In 1998, the college transitioned to a full four-year institution. Mount Ida began offering graduate degrees in 2009.
In 2016, US News and World Reports ranked Mount Ida as the 27th Best Regional College in the North. Under President Brown’s tutelage, the college has rapidly evolved to be a vibrant, twenty-first century institution.
Our Historic Campus
Mount Ida College is an institution rooted deep in history. From the simplicity of the eighteenth century New England colonial farmhouse at Boulder Farm to the English full manor house at the Robert Gould Shaw II Estate, our college’s story is as vibrant as its colorful homes – and its community
Built in the 1700s, Boulder Farm, previously known as “Miss Peabody’s Tea House,” owes much its history to Dr. Roy Carlson, former President of Mount Ida Junior College, and his wife, Ivy Carlson.
In 1964, the house was about to be demolished for new home construction. Ivy, a collector and dealer in antiques, saw the value of the house as a residence, and convinced Roy to purchase the house for one dollar and have it moved to its present location.
While the house was moved to campus and is, therefore, an addition to the original estate land, Boulder Farm is a historically significant structure in its own right. The significance of Boulder Farm’s structure lies in its simple design and solid construction, which illustrates New England architectural style in the eighteenth century. The house, now believed to be the second oldest in Newton, features large fireplaces, wide-board floors, low timbered ceilings, narrow stairwells, and wrought iron door hardware. On top of the stylistic elements, the original design includes a hiding spot behind the fireplace as attacks by Native Americans sometimes occurred.
The house has served the college in many capacities over the years, from a residence to past presidents and their families to a gathering space for alumni, students, parents, faculty, staff, and dignitaries.