Vincent Smith School
CNPHS Historic Recognition Program
by Kathryn Keiserman
The Vincent Smith School was opened under the name “The Harbor School'' in 1923. Sir Gilbert and Lady Eliott, and Miss Adelaide Vincent Smith co-founded the school with the intention of ensuring a private education for the children of the Eliott family and other affluent families.
The first class included the children of such families as the Morleys, Grummans, Guggenheims, and Loukenbachs. The first ninth grade certificate went to Christopher Morley, Jr., and the second went to Ann Willets Lapham in 1931. The name of the school was changed a year after its founding due to the fact that the local public school had the same name. Sir Gilbert Eliott was the one who suggested that it be named after the co-founder and first principal, Adelaide Vincent Smith.
The school was originally located on Bayview Avenue in Port Washington. The Eliotts purchased a part of the Lapham Estate on Port Washington Boulevard in 1927 to build the original school house on the current campus. This original building now houses the Lower School.
The building which now houses the Middle School was acquired in 1963. In 1970, financial difficulties almost closed the school permanently. Parents and staff helped to relieve the financial difficulties through donations and assistance in meeting a $30,000 bank loan. To encourage enrollment after this difficult period, the High School was added in 1974.
The school is a member of the NY State Association of Independent Schools.
Although it started as a school for the affluent families of Port Washington, Vincent Smith is now a non-profit organization which operates as a k-12 special education school. The school prides itself on its mission to meet the individual, specialized needs of its students.