As early as 1844, the School Committee of Dedham recommended the establishment of a high school, as the statute of the Commonwealth required, and this advise was repeated from year to year. There was a strong desire for such a school, but the opposition to it was stronger. In 1850, William S. Damrell of Readville declared his intention to bring suit against the town for failure to comply with the law if at the next town meeting it did not make an appropriation for such a school as the law required. This probably determined the action the town took at a meeting held May 12, 1851, when it "voted to instruct the Town's School Committee to hire a building and teacher, and establish a High School according to law."
Also, the town "voted that the sum of one thousand dollars be raised by tax for the purpose of establishing and maintaining a High School, to be expended by the Town School Committee."
In accordance with these votes, the Committee elected Mr. Charles J. Capen as Principal, and also hired the hall in which he had for several years taught a private school. Mr. Capen opened the private high and classical school in 1849 at the request of prominent citizens of Dedham who had failed to induce the town to establish a public high school. The hall was on Church Street, over a store of Mr. William Field, and was commonly known as Masonic Hall.
MASONIC HALL, OVER FIELD'S STORE, ON CHURCH STREET, OCCUPIED BY THE SCHOOL, 1851 TO 1854
INTERIOR VIEW OF MASONIC HALL WHEN USED AS THE FIRST SCHOOL ROOM
FROM A DRAWING MADE BY HENRY S. TALBOT WHILE A MEMBER OF THE SCHOOL IN 1853