Lincoln Academy was chartered in 1801 by the General Court of Massachusetts 'for the purpose of promoting Piety, Religion and Morality.' 178 citizens from Boothbay, Bristol, Edgecomb, Georgetown, Newcastle, New Milford (Alna), Thomaston, Wiscasset, and Nobleboro signed the original petition and then contributed over $3,000 to found the school. Lincoln Academy is the fourth oldest secondary school in Maine that is still in existence today.
The Academy opened in October 1805 in a wooden building on the River Road. 74 students attended that year. The tuition ($257.60 per year) was paid by students' families.
In 1828, the first building burned and a new structure was built on Academy Hill. This building, with the bell tower, still serves as the central building of the school.
From 1805 until 1903 LA served as a 'fitting school for Bowdoin College.' In 1903 the Maine Legislature passed a law which mandated secondary education be funded by the towns. Many adults enrolled at LA to receive their 'free high school education,' resulting in a dramatic increase in enrollment and a dramatic change in the nature of the student body. By 1906, the student body had been limited to those preparing for college, Bowdoin College in particular, and an entrance exam was required for admission.
Entrance exams were discontinued in the 1930's, and LA became, in effect, the public high school for the towns in the area. Enrollment doubled during the 1950's and 60's, and increased again when Bristol High School closed in 1969.
As private, chartered schools became fewer, the State passed legislation controlling the amount of tuition that can be charged to the sending towns, using, a formula based on average costs for secondary education in the State, with a 10% additional charge for facilities maintenance and debt service. (There is no State money for major renovations or new buildings.)
In the 1970's, differentiated diplomas were eliminated and the minimum course load and graduation course requirements were increased. The Academy joined the Regional Vocational Program at Bath, and later the Rockland Vocational Center.
Throughout its history, Lincoln Academy has made significant physical changes to the facility to serve the increasing student population and significant programmatic changes to keep up with advances in education and the changing needs of its students.
Lincoln Academy is still a private school which serves as the secondary school of choice for young people in surrounding towns. Because of its not-for-profit status, the school is able to accept private contributions to augment the operations budget, finance capital projects, and build an endowment.
From its very beginnings and throughout its history, public support of Lincoln Academy has enabled the school to remain competitive and excel in many areas, providing a quality education at a reasonable cost.