The Antioch School as we know it began in the fall of 1921 with the arrival of Arthur Morgan as the president of Antioch College. Morgan had previously started the Moraine Park School in Dayton in the summer of 1917 with the belief that "education is the most important job of the human race."
The school was to function as a laboratory for Antioch students in the teacher-training program and included an elementary and junior high division as well as a high school. According to an early catalog the school hoped to develop "self-control and a sense of personal and social responsibility." There was to be "close, open-minded observation of the children, with a molding of the school program to suit the children's needs, rather than forcing them to fit a rigid and artificial curriculum." Children were encouraged to progress at whatever rate natural capacity, health and vitality made possible.
All 12 grades were housed in the Mills House, the mansion of Judge William Mills, situated on the 10 acres known as Mills' Lawn. The house was located more or less in the center of the lot. It was removed about 1967. In 1929 the junior high and high school divisions were dropped and the children transferred to the new Bryan High School.
From the very beginning the school was experimental in nature. It was ungraded, and as far as can be determined, evaluation was always by means of conferences rather than printed report cards. Through the years and with a number of different administrators, the teachers were encouraged to explore a wide variety of teaching methods and materials, a practice that continues to this day. Since the teachers were not confined to a specified curriculum, they experienced considerable freedom in designing the learning experiences for and with their students. In 1953 The Antioch School, consisting of grades K-6, moved into the current school building on Corry St. designed by Max Mercer, a local architect, who worked with Eero Saarinen.
Prior to 1963, most of the teachers at the school were recent graduates of the college, but in that year the school hired Bill Mullins, an assistant professor of education at the University of Iowa and Beverly Price, an experienced teacher finishing her Masters degree at Iowa.
In 1967 the staff assumed total administrative responsibility for the direction of the school, unprecedented in education, even today. When the college was ready to close the school, adamant support from education majors, parents and alumni led instead to academic independence from the college in 1979. The Antioch School's autonomy became complete under business manager Peggy Erskine, who came aboard in 1983 and helped the school raise the funds to purchase the land and building in 1985.
From 1963 to the present, the school has continued a policy of experimentation and investigation of promising educational ideas. During this period there were ten years when the Older Group ranged in age from 8-14. Following this a Senior Group was instituted in the converted garage for four years.
Through decades of change and growth, the school has been a place where children and adults have shared and enjoyed a wonderful learning experience.