Our last post on the Brooks exhibit at Grand Central inspired this submission from a reader.
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If one looks closely at the crest on the historic blazer in the recent Brooks Brothers exhibit, it has the embroidered crest and motto — victuri te salutamus or “victory, we salute you” — of Brooks School, one of the iconic New England boarding schools located in North Andover, just a frisbee toss away from Phillips Academy. While the school has had a jacket-and-tie dress code since it was founded in 1926, students tended not to receive the crest until the graduation ceremony. In recent decades, the crest, along with green piping, is used to modify regular blazers into rowing blazers for Head of the Charles and Henley.
The picturesque Brooks School was founded by Endicott Peabody, the headmaster of Groton who was the inspiration for the fictional schoolmaster in Louis Auchincloss’ The Rector of Justin. Peabody chose the young Frank Ashburn — an alum of Groton, Yale (Skull & Bones), and Columbia Law School — as the first headmaster. They modeled Brooks’ colors of black, white and green after the Groton colors of black, red and white.
Meanwhile, just down the road, a young man named Charlie Davidson opened the Andover Shop in 1948. The now fortysomething Ashburn took a liking to Davidson, and began bringing vanloads of students to the shop each week in order to get the properly outfitted. To this day, the shop supplies the school crests, like the one seen in the Brooks Brothers exhibit. Davidson related how Ashburn’s support was critical to the survival of his own young company. Over the years, Davidson and The Andover Shop designed and created a number of iconic Brooks items (as in the school), including scarves and rep ties modeled after the English public school kit.
Coming full circle, Brooks School recently worked with The Andover Shop to reissue its 1936 school tie (originally made by J. Press) from the archives. Archivist Deanna Stuart of Brooks worked with James Toomey and Charlie Davidson to determine the original colors (because of fading of dyes over time), and to widen the reissued tie slightly so that it would look appropriate to wear today, rather than like some sort of Jazz Age lawn party costume.
Frank Ashburn and Charlie Davidson’s influence remains strong on the Brooks School culture, and the school is known for a number of stylish alumni, including actors Anthony Perkins, James Spader (see Ivy Style’s “neurotic WASPs” post) and Parker Stevenson (A Separate Peace, Mission: Impossible), and the musician Lang Phipps (according to the NYT wedding announcement, his father gardens in a jacket and tie). Perhaps a new motto is in order: Davidson te salutamus, or “Andover Shop, we salute you.” — ANV