The Boydens and their legacy at Deerfield thrives within our campus. The icons are reflected in our community in many ways.
One such manifestation of their commemoration are the ten major artistic depictions of Mr. and Mrs. Boyden situated throughout the campus.
Wherever you might find yourself in the Valley, you are quite likely to find yourself under the watchful eye of one or both of these Deerfield icons.
Interestingly enough, no portrait of Mr. or Mrs. Boyden appears alone in a room. The two are always depicted in pairs, so if you find yourself looking at a portrait of Mr. Boyden, you can rest assured that Mrs. Boyden can be found nearby.
Frank L. Boyden is an iconic patron of Deerfield Academy. Boyden nursed the Academy from its adolescent days in which the school had so few students that the Headmaster had to play on both the football and baseball teams.
Fresh out of Amherst College, Mr. Boyden accepted a job at what was, at the time, a small local public school in Deerfield, Massachusetts in the hopes of attending law school in the future.
However, Mr. Boyden soon became enamoured with the vivacious community of the school.
He would often show his devotion and respect for both the school and its close-knit community by often times setting up his desk in the hallway of the Main School Building.
When asked how he approaches his job as a leader at Deerfield, Mr. Boyden said, “We just treat the boys as if we expect something of them and we keep them busy.”
His dedication and passion for the school was obvious to the students.
One previous student, William Zinsser ’40, remembered Mr. Boyden’s influence on the students and said, “His school enabled us to be comfortable with our limitations and confident in our strengths.”
Helen Childs Boyden, the wife of Frank Boyden, similarly impacted the spirit of Deerfield Academy. In 1905, Helen Childs applied for a teaching job at Deerfield a year after graduating from Smith College.
Due to her lack of experience, Mr. Boyden was hesitant to hire the young applicant at first. Despite this, she got the job, and the two were married two years later.
Mrs. Boyden taught as a teacher of mathematics and science at Deerfield for over 50 years, and left a unique imprint on her students through her valuable outlook on education.
Instead of viewing the class as a collective whole, Mrs. Boyden sought to teach the individual, telling students who struggled in school to “stop trying to remember, and start trying to think.”
Mrs. Boyden’s impact on education made her a recognized figure among numerous schools in the area. At her twenty-fifth reunion at Smith in 1939, Mrs. Boyden was made an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.
Trinity College honored Mrs. Boyden with the same distinction in 1952, and, in 1946, St. Lawrence University made Mrs. Boyden an honorary Doctor of Science.
Over the span of 66 years, Deerfield Academy was reorganized—by Mr. Boyden’s dedication and Mrs. Boyden’s perspective on teaching—into one of the best schools in the country.
Their influence on the school remains not only in the school’s structure and ideals, but also in the multiple artistic renditions of the pair as they keep a watchful eye on students around campus.
Can you spot the pair?
In the Caswell library of the Main School Building, two large portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Boyden hang on opposite ends of the room.
Mrs. Boyden is depicted posing behind a chair with a white background, white blazer, and flowers. Mr. Boyden, on the other hand, stands in front of a black background in a black suit, holding a pen.
On the main floor of the Boyden Library, two large portraits on opposite ends of the room show Mrs. Boyden wearing a blue cloak and
Mr. Boyden once again in a suit in front of a dark background. Mrs. Boyden’s portrait likewise depicts her surrounded by flowers.
One cannot walk through the Kendall without first taking a look at the smaller, yet very realistic pair of portraits that hang on the wall above the Kendall common room.
Mrs. Boyden sits on a chair in a floral dress, while Mr. Boyden is once again in a dark suit and tie.
Ephraim Williams House demonstrates a number of unique dedications to the Boydens. Among them, a portrait of the pair, a statue version of a portrait of Mr. Boyden, and a handwritten letter from Mr. Boyden himself.
The statue was created in 1982 by Helen Hooker O’Malley, mother of Deerfield student Cormac O’Malley ‘61.
Finally, one of the more recent and intriguing depictions of the Boydens is in the basement of the library, awaiting those who pass by.
The two pieces, created by Kento Yamamoto ‘16, are made entirely out of Rubik’s cubes. Yamamoto used the pixels in the images of the pair, which correlated to the individual squares in the Rubik’s cubes. The portrait of Mrs. Boyden took 5 hours and 49 minutes to complete.
You can find a time-lapse of Yamamoto creating this piece by searching “Rubikscubism at Deerfield” on the Bulletin.
Next time you find yourself in one of these areas on campus, make sure you keep an attentive eye out for the Boydens.
Can you find any artistic depictions that we missed? Where do you see the Boydens?
We have listed the major places, but can you find any hidden spots where they might still be hiding?
Although they are no longer around physically, they will forever be integrated into the Deerfield community in spirit and through art.