Then, a series of financial catastrophes swept the country, and Tabor Academy, along with many of the New England town academies, began to wobble. In 1916 there were fewer than a dozen students, and the trustees contemplated a sale of the property to the town as a site for the local high school. However, three trustees prevailed over this plan and that year hired a new Headmaster, Mr. Walter Lillard. Mr. Lillard brought a fresh vision to the school, seeing at once that moving Tabor from its “in town” location to the seaside would make it unique among New England schools. He quickly convinced the trustees of the vitality of his vision and worked over the next twenty years to move Tabor Academy toward the sea. By the mid-1930s, Mr. Lillard had effected a dramatic trade with the town of Marion, exchanging the then Town Hall (now the current site of the Academic Center) and a small plot of land on Front Street for the school’s larger land and buildings. He managed to acquire nearly a half-mile of salt marsh and fields and a few old summer cottages and thus, Tabor Academy, our school by the sea, had its second founding.
Quickly, under Mr. Lillard’s leadership, the school grew ten-fold, and by the time all of the operation of the school moved to its current location, Tabor’s reputation as a unique and extraordinary place had been secured. Mr. Lillard was a pioneer in the movement to create global school exchanges, founding the International Schoolboy Association in 1927 with the heads of 15 New England prep schools and school leaders from England, France, and Germany. This world-minded outlook spawned the international study, travel, exchange and service programs that have grown since then to give Tabor its global community today. Over the last decades Tabor has developed its philosophy, program, and facility founded on its deep connection with the natural world, the spiritual legacy of the sea around us, and the common humility and dedication that life by the sea inspires.