John Cassedy
John Irvin Cassedy

The best source of information on this phase of the Seminary
comes from a series of articles written by Ric Nelson for the

NPS Alumnae Bulletin.
Those articles, and many of the photos which appear here,
are copyrighted by Ric Nelson. 
The photos are used here with his permission.

John Andrew Irvin Cassedy was born on August 8, 1856 in a little town in Ohio. He grew up aspiring to be a science teacher, and pursued his education at Ohio Wesleyan University. It was there that he met Vesta Harvey, who was to be his wife.

His first teaching position was at Lasell Seminary in Arburndale, Mass. He was at Lasell when he married Vesta on August 12, 1886 and it was decided she would leave her teaching position in Missouri to join him. Their first child, Miller, was born while they were at Lasell.

In 1888, Cassedy accepted the position of Principal at Norfolk College for Young Women. He and his wife were successful at revitalizing the old school with some of the innovations they brought with them from Lasell. Their second child, Harvey, was born there in 1890.

But there were a couple of reasons that Norfolk was less than ideal as a permanent home for them. First, it was in an urban setting, and this created distractions to the goal of training young women according to their educational philosophy. The second was that they did not have total control over policy and management, but instead, a lumberman, Captain John L. Roper, was in charge.

Because of the museums, galleries, and historic government buildings, Washington, D.C. became the Cassedys target area for a school that they would build and run. During their search for a location, they happened to meet T.F. Schneider and his wife, and found out about the Forest Inn, which ultimately became the home of National Park Seminary (NPS).

Cassedy deserves credit for much of the construction at the Seminary, including the eight sorority houses that earned the site a prominent place in the history of American architectural folly. The Gymnasiums (both old and new), the Odeon, Senior House, Aloha, and many other buildings and expansions date from the Cassedy years. Cassedy was also very involved in organizing the Washington, Woodside, Forest Glen Railway and Power Company, primarily so the school could get electric power from the streetcar line. He also gave money to help build the Woodside School, and to form the Silver Spring Volunteer Fire Department.

Unfortunately, Vesta Harvey began suffering from cancer in 1909, necessitating a withdrawal from his daily responsibilities at the school. After she died in 1910, he took some time off for travel. It was on his visits to Roswell, N.M. that he began dating a recent NPS graduate, Stephana Prager. He married her on June 12, 1912. He was never again as involved in the affairs of NPS, partly because Stephana seemed to have no interest. In 1916, he sold his interest in the school to Joseph Trees for an undisclosed amount. He continued on the NPS Board of Directors.


This page was last maintained on 05/21/98.