Jacob Tome’s school
York County native Jacob Tome made his fortune at Port Deposit, Maryland. He made his lasting mark on the area by sharing his wealth with the community, among which were financing the Tome Memorial Church and the Tome School. Only remnants remain of the original Jacob Tome Institute in Port Deposit. The entrance archway of the main building stands alone, still displaying the carved likenesses of Jacob and Evalyn Tome.
The present day Port Deposit town hall stands across the street from the main school site and a short distance from the rubble that was the magnificent Tome mansion. The town hall building sports two bronze plaques. One reads:
DIRECTLY ACROSS THE STREET STOOD WASHINGTON HALL
THE INSTITUTE’S FIRST BUILDING
ERECTED 1894 BY JACOB TOME (1810-1898)
FOUNDER AND BENEFACTOR OF
THE TOME SCHOOL
The second plaque states:
ERECTED 1900 AS THE GYMNASIUM OF
THE SENIOR SCHOOL FOR GIRLS OF
THE JACOB TOME INSTITUTE
IN 1983 IT BECAME THE TOWN HALL
OF THE TOWN OF PORT DEPOSIT
In 1889 Tome announced that he planned to open a free school for children of Post Deposit and Cecil County, Maryland to educate boys in the use of tools and prepare them for their selected trade. Girls would learn skills for the home and office, such as sewing, cooking, domestic arts, telegraphy, shorthand and typing.
It was not a trade school, but an institution to prepare children for whatever work they would do throughout their life. Vocal music, technical and free-hand drawing, literature, English and history would also be taught to all, so that those who wished to go to college would be prepared. Tome is quoted as saying that he wanted to “make the way a little smoother for others,” no doubt recalling his boyhood poverty growing up in York County.
Construction of the school, built of brick, stone and terracotta on a granite foundation, cost around $500,000. Tome’s original endowment was $2,500,000 with the hope that the fund would be self-sustaining.
The Tome Institute reached its 600 student capacity quickly it opened in 1894. Jacob Tome was happily anticipating the forthcoming first commencement when he passed away in March 1898. His widow, Evalyn Nesbitt Tome carried on his vision by developing a much larger and grander campus at the top of the hill overlooking the Susquehanna River. The site, utilizing many of the huge granite buildings, became the Bainbridge Naval Training Center, which closed in 1976. Redevelopment plans for the site, possibly utilizing some of the sturdy stone structures, have moved slowly. The present Tome school is in North East, Maryland.