UMassD Swain School of Design 1881 - 1902

Swain Logo 
1903-1919 1920-1929 1930-1939 1940-1949 1950-1959 

1960-1969 1970-1979 1980-1988 

Swain home



Portrait of William W. SwainOfficially incorporated in 1881, the Swain School of Design was originally planned in 1857 when New Bedford oil and shipping magnate, William W. Swain drew up his will setting aside a portion of his fortune and homestead at 391 County Street for the establishment of a free school. It officially opened with a class of 80 students on October 25, 1882.








Swain Homestead

Classes took place in William Swain’s home at 391 County Street, a building occupied by the school until arson claimed it in 1948.












Cover of the 1886-1887 catalog

Intended as an institution in higher education, classes initially concentrated on English, History, French, German, Drawing and Painting. In the second year, Latin, Greek and Chemistry were added. Other subjects in the early years were Mathematics, Geographics, Music (harmony), Logic, Italian and Portuguese.


2. Conditions of admission

3. Courses of study