In 1947, Mark Wakefield and Mark Scearce leased the extreme eastern portion of Science Hill known as The Chapel or Lecture Hall from Misses Juliet and Harriet Poynter. Together they founded Wakefield-Scearce Galleries with the intent of selling British antiques. After four years, Mr. Wakefield retired from the business he helped found, but his name and his inspiration remained with the store.
Mark J. Scearce continued to operate the retail antique business and purchased the eastern portion of the property in 1961. Four years later he purchased the remainder of the property on the condition that the Misses Poynter be allowed to reside in the west wing until their deaths.
The property had fallen into disrepair since the school’s closing in 1939. Indeed, the building had not even been painted in nearly forty years, and the plumbing and wiring, originally installed in the early 1900s, were dangerously antiquated. Thus, upon purchasing the property, Mr. Scearce launched an 18-month restoration in which nearly 75 miles of new wiring was laid, 14 miles of new copper plumbing was installed, and 700 gallons of paint was used in a single coating of the building. The entire property was given a complete facelift, but the original structure was carefully retained for historical authenticity. Only minor changes were made to adapt the six buildings for their modern day use.
Between 1981 and 1982, Mr. Scearce launched a new 15-month restoration of the West Wing following the death of Miss Harriet Poynter in 1982 at the age of 99. (Miss Juliet had died in 1974 at the age of 93.) Upon the renovation’s completion in the Autumn of 1983, four new shops were opened to the public in what is now called the Poynter Wing.
Today Science Hill is divided into three major sections: the Gallery, the Courtyard, and the Dining Room. The Gallery still serves in its original retail capacity: selling primarily British antiques to the American public. The Courtyard is home to five shops that sell fashionable apparel, silver, linens, and even Christmas ornaments. The Dining Room makes use of the original kitchen and dining hall to serve dinner to any guest of this historic place.
The sturdy masonry of Science Hill has protected its 78 rooms from wars, depressions, and nature’s ravages for nearly 200 years. During that time, millions have visited and studied under Science Hill’s care: Celebrities, dignitaries, young ladies with dreams of knowledge, diplomats, and orators have been our frequent guests. But the doors remain open to people from every walk of life who wish to relive a bit of the past.