The Gunston School is delighted to announce that the school has acquired 25-acres of property adjacent to the campus from the estate of Carter (Middleton) Bond. Bond was the granddaughter of the school’s founders, Samuel and Mary Middleton, and she passed away peacefully at the age of 91 in early 2022.
The acquisition, which closed on November 22, will grow the campus footprint by 40% from 35 to 60 acres. The newly-acquired parcels substantially extend the eastern edge of the school’s campus, and include the forested and farm field areas behind The Gunston Tennis Center and the school’s athletic fields (see map).
Gunston’s Board Chair Patrick Shoemaker ’03 noted, “The phrase once-in-a-lifetime can be overused, but I think it’s appropriate in this situation. Institutions rarely have the opportunity to acquire substantial adjacent property. Our Board immediately recognized the opportunity we had in front of us. We’re excited to consider how to utilize this new space to benefit our students today, and in the future.”
Shoemaker continued, “We owe a debt of gratitude to Mrs. Bond’s son, Wick Sollers, for honoring his mother’s love and connection to the school; to trustee Chris McClary for his skilled management of the transaction process, and to our Head of School John Lewis whose long-standing personal relationship with Mrs. Bond and other members of the Middleton family have kept their family legacy alive.”
Mr. Sollers shared, “My family has a deep affection for Gunston School, and we have been gratified to watch its extremely positive trajectory under the leadership of John Lewis and his team. We are delighted—and my Mom, her sister Emily Durham, and their parents and grandparents would also have been delighted—that Gunston will be the steward of and use wisely the beautiful land that it has acquired from my family.”
Head of School John Lewis said, “I think the first question to naturally ask is: What is the school going to do with this substantial additional property? We always begin with students in mind, and the additional acreage will likely help us to navigate some short-term challenges associated with our 2021 Campus Master Plan. However, complex and sizable acquisition of this scope will involve our Board coordinating a multi-year, multi-constituent planning process about how to shape and steward this new space. Perhaps the most immediate impact is that we’ll now have the best interscholastic Cross Country course in the ESIAC conference!”
The multi-year process of acquiring the adjacent acreage began when Lewis reached out to Bond about selling the school a 3-acre parcel of land bisecting the campus behind Heron Field and the Tennis Courts. “She was open to this idea,” said Lewis, “and we made several plans for her to visit campus to survey the space. Unfortunately, health challenges didn’t permit Mrs. Bond to travel, so our discussions were put on hold. After she passed away unexpectedly in early 2022, her son Mr. Sollers immediately picked up the baton of our discussion, and it became clear that a more expansive 25-acre acquisition might be possible.”
Carter Bond spent her life amidst independent school education. Her father Atherton “Appy” Middleton was the former lacrosse coach at the University of Pennsylvania and headmaster of the St. Paul School for Boys. During the summers, Appy and his wife Catherine helped to operate Camp Gunston, then a popular overnight camp for students in the Mid-Atlantic region. Bond spent her summers on Gunston’s campus and remained closely connected to the school throughout the years. She was a graduate of Garrison Forest School and eventually became an athletic instructor at the St. Paul School for Boys.
Lewis shared, “My relationship with Mrs. Bond began during the first year of my tenure at Gunston. She shared fun and moving stories of the role Gunston’s campus played in the lives of young people during the middle of the 20th century. Although she resided in the Baltimore area, Gunston helped to shape her, and she always supported the school and our mission. We miss her, and we’re glad that her legacy to Gunston will endure.”
Since its founding in 1911, Gunston has enjoyed a rich history on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It was founded as the co-educational Gunston Farm School for students between 8 and 18 before becoming the Gunston School for Girls, a boarding school with an enrollment of approximately 80 girls. In 1996, Gunston transitioned to become Gunston Day School, a college preparatory school for students in the Mid-Shore region and beyond. In 2011, the school’s Centennial Year, the school was renamed The Gunston School, tying together its rich and diverse history. The school now enrolls 235 students from six counties, two states, and four countries. It also houses two major summer programs in partnership with the YMCA and Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s. These programs serve hundreds of students during the summer.
“For 12 decades, young people have benefitted from Gunston’s stunning waterfront campus,” reflected Lewis. “Gunston has evolved with the times, always keeping youth growth and development as our central priority. We’re mindful of our role as part of the educational ecosystem of the Eastern Shore, so while this is an exciting time for the school, it’s also exciting for the region we serve.”