History of the Houses

Nicholas Bisulca, Managing Editor of Photography

Lake Forest Academy’s school spirit thrives through house cup competitions. During Freshman year, students are assigned to 1 of the 4 Houses: Bird, Lewis, Welch, or Sargent. Over the duration of the school year, students compete with one another to earn points for their houses. Some ways to earn points are being on the honor roll, acts of kindness, going to pack the house events, and competing in house competitions. Competitions can vary from trivia during morning meetings to throwing a frisbee across LFA’s courtyard. Director of Residential Life Jonathan Freeman said “the creation of the house was for school spirit, and it gave students another way of interacting with people across great boundaries.” 

The idea of having cup houses at LFA originated from the 1912 Orange and Black clubs, which would compete in various athletic competitions. The clubs ended in 1936 but the idea was once again revived at LFA in the 1950s. 

During the 1900s Ferry Hall had a similar program. Ferry Hall had their first official Field Day in 1903, where students would compete against one another in athletic competitions. In 1905, a Lake Forest community member donated the Westleigh Cup, which became the official Field Day trophy. This idea expanded during the 1930s and in 1938 Ferry Hall had their first yellow and white competitions. The winner of these competitions would get their names on a trophy along with Monty the Bear on display, wearing their ribbon. 

Yellow Team wins Field Day and is awarded the trophy and Monty the bear (1967) (Photo by LFA Archives )

When house competitions were revived at LFA in 2004, a student committee chose the names of new houses and used inspiration from the previous clubs for house colors. The results were Bird, Welch, Lewis, and Sargent house. 

The name Welch comes from Alfred Gardner Welch, who was LFA Headmaster from 1897-1900. He admitted the first two black students into LFA in 1899. Welch was young, business oriented, and very popular with his scholars. He is known for conducting a search team, and saving students who floated out on Lake Michigan on ice. 

Sargent house -which has been successful in winning the last two house cups- comes from Sabra L. Sargent, who was the Ferry Hall principal from 1894-1904. Sargent was principal during what was considered a progressive era, and she held ties to the Hull house in Chicago. She is known as the founder of the Ferry Hall Missionary Society.

Bird House is represented by John A. Bird, who was the Ferry Hall principal from 1970-1974. Bird was known for being incredibly involved in the merge of Ferry Hall and Lake Forest Academy. Without him, LFA would still be separate from Ferry Hall, and our school would be drastically changed from what we know it as now. 

The inspiration for Lewis house came from William Mather Lewis, who was LFA’s Headmaster from 1905-1913. Lewis was interested in an international community and very critical of isolationism. He preached the importance of a global mindset, and even became the mayor of Lake Forest in 1915 after he left Lake Forest Academy. He left a legacy of global focus which is now important to LFA as a diverse school. 

Each house is represented by someone who helped form what LFA stands for today.