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22 STEPHEN COLLINS FOSTER
To Stephen the journey was a joyous adventure, and remained with him all his life as a beautiful memory to which he often referred with delight.
The Athens Academy was one of the best schools of its kind in that region. Its history, like that of many other of these pioneer schools, shows the high regard in which "learning" was held by the founders and builders of the frontier communities. The first move to found an Academy at "Tioga Point" (as it was then known) was made in February, 1797. About $900 was subscribed in shares of $30 each by the citizens of the neighborhood. The country was new and sparsely settled, money was scarce, and many of the shares were paid in labor and materials. The frame of the building was erected, but stood for several years without being enclosed. Later, a small appropriation was obtained from the Legislature and the second story of the building was rented to the Masonic Lodge and occupied by them for several years. In these and various other ways the school fund was raised, and finally on Monday, April 25th, 1814, just seventeen years after the first subscription had been made, the school was opened. During the next thirty years, the Academy had no less than twenty Principals, probably more, for the records were negligently kept. Some of these "Principals" held the position only three or four weeks, or a few months, only two of them enduring through a period of three years each.
The building was painted white, and an architectural feature held worthy of note by local historians was the fact that it had "four handsomely turned (round) pillars to support the front and a bell-tower over the porch.'" In 1841 the school received from the State an income of $500 a year, the first payment of which was spent for "astronomical and philosophical apparatus and books for the library."
At the time Stephen Foster was a pupil, the Athens Academy was enjoying "the most brilliant period in its