In September 1926, Mrs. Eva Edwards Lovett, an innovative educator who emphasized the development of the whole child, officially began The Lovett School with 20 boys and girls in Grades 1-3 at a former home in Midtown Atlanta. By 1936, Lovett was able to become a true country day school, with a move to a wooded campus north of the city off West Wesley Road.
From 1936 to 1954, the school successfully grew under Mrs. Lovett's leadership, with her emphasis placed on her vision of progressive education, where children learn by doing and not "the usual exclusive concern with textbook knowledge." In the mid-1950s, plans for the continued direction of the school upon Mrs. Lovett's retirement were taken into consideration, and the school merged with The Cathedral of St. Philip. Plans were made to construct a larger school with improved facilities. The 1960-61 school year opened at 4075 Paces Ferry Road--Lovett's current location--with an enrollment of 1,024 students, representing all grades except the 12th. In June 1962, Lovett's first senior class graduated, all having been accepted at colleges and universities of their choice.
The mid-1960s were difficult ones in Lovett's history with the beginning of integration. Lovett certainly was not the last stronghold of segregation, but it was certainly one of the most publicized. In 1963 Martin Luther King III applied to Lovett and was denied admission by the board of trustees--despite the objections of the governing Episcopal Diocese, which was in favor of open churches and open schools. But Lovett's trustees argued that they were not in defiance since the school was not originally founded by the Episcopal Church. As a result, the Reverend McDowell, an Episcopal priest, resigned as headmaster, and the school's admission policy was revised to free itself of ecclesiastical jurisdiction of The Cathedral of St. Philip. However, by 1967, Lovett's admission policy had been revised to evaluate students without regard to race or religion, and the school became one of the first independent schools in Atlanta to desegregate. (The school's nondiscriminatory policy now reads: "The Lovett School admits students of any race, color, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and national or ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. The Lovett School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and national or ethnic origin in administration of its employment practices, educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic or other school-administered programs.")
The late 1960s, '70s, and '80s brought a sense of establishment to the school. The schools gained regional and national accreditations, and aggressive campus building projects continued, bringing to campus the Kilpatrick Stadium, Loridans House, Smith Natatorium, and Vasser Woolley Library, and more. In the 1990s, several additional campus facilities were created, including the Fuqua Center, Wallace Gym, and Hite Wellness Center.
In 1992, Lovett's philosophy was re-written, and the school also purchased more than 800 acres of rainforest, known as Siempre Verde, in Ecuador for the purpose of establishing a research and education center. In 1995 Lovett began hosting Summerbridge Atlanta (now known as Breakthrough Atlanta), an academic enrichment program for middle school students from Atlanta's public schools.
The 2000-01 school year marked the introduction of Lovett's Character Pledge, developed by a committee of parents and staff in keeping with the goals of Lovett's Strategic Plan 2000. The Character Pledge reads as follows: "We, who are members of the Lovett community, seek to live lives of good character. We believe that good character grows from daily acts of honesty, respect, responsibility, and compassion. We pledge ourselves to develop these ideals with courage and integrity, striving to do what is right at all times." The school also celebrated its 75th anniversary in grand style, and embarked on a related capital campaign that raised more than $65 million for capital improvements, including a new Lower School and Upper School, as well as other projects to increase green space and reduce the clutter of cars on campus. Since that time, the school has seen a new Mission Statement, adopted in 2012, and several capital projects: the Portman Family Middle School, completed in 2009; a new baseball/softball complex and Railey Field, completed in 2010; the Rogers & Westmoreland Activity Center, completed in 2012; and the Murray Athletic Center, completed in Fall 2015.
The essential rebuilding of the campus over the last decade reflects a new era at Lovett--one in which we acknowledge the vision of Eva Edwards Lovett, with facilities that work for today's educational environment, and maintain a continuing commitment to our community and strong convictions about the persons we send out into the world.