The Wealthiest (Abandoned) Secondary School in America
Founded as a prep school for boys in 1894, the Tome School in Port Deposit, MD boasted beautiful beaux arts-influenced Georgian Revival style buildings designed by New-York based architecture firm Boring & Tilton, who had recently completed the immigration buildings at Ellis Island. The grounds were designed by notable landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted; it would be one of his last projects before he died in 1903. Called ‘the wealthiest secondary school in America’, Tome was the alma mater of children of such noteworthy families as Carnegie and Mellon and the son of R.J. Reynolds. Nevertheless, during the depression it fell on hard times and was closed in 1941. In 1942 Congress appropriated the school and surrounding farmland for use as the Bainbridge Naval Training Center. Over 500,000 students would graduate from the facility before it too was closed in 1976. In 1979 some of the buildings on the campus were used as a Job Corps site, but many were left to rot. It operated in this capacity until 1991, when stewardship of the site was turned over to the State of Maryland, who then turned it over to the Bainbridge Redevelopment Corporation. Despite the school’s designation as an historic district on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, the buildings continued to deteriorate as they were targeted by vandals. In 2014 teenagers burned down the jewel of the campus, Memorial Hall. Today there is little left of the former school and training academy that meant so much to so many. As with many of these abandoned locations that aren’t preserved, one wonders why some better use was not found, as Tome was repurposed several times and could have been again. It was a large part of the area’s history and perhaps the most noteworthy and significant architecture in the town.