The Rev. Alfred Lee Brewer was named rector of the Episcopal Church of St. Matthew in 1865. That same year he established St. Matthew’s Hall (later known as St. Matthew’s Military School) on a site adjacent to the church and parsonage.

Hawaiian princes in school uniform

The school’s goals aspired to the highest ideals of Christian and secular training for boys. The school adopted a military system for training, discipline, and administration. There was a lack of such a school in the west coast at the time and St. Matthew’s Military School quickly expanded to a new 80-acre campus along Barroilhet Avenue in Burlingame.

Boys enrolled from San Francisco and nearly a quarter of the students came from Nevada. The planter elite of the Hawaiian Islands also selected St. Matthew’s to educate their sons. In turn, King David Kalakaua of Hawaii visited California and the school in 1881. It met his approval and several young Hawaiian princes, David Kawananakoa, Edward Keli’iahonui and Jonah Kuhio Kalaniana’ole, nephews of Queen Kapiolani, enrolled at St. Matthew’s. These Hawaiian princes also brought surfing to mainland USA.

Did you know that 5,000 boys graduated St. Matthew’s Military School over its 50 year history?

The school was held in high regard due in part to its illustrious graduates including Henry J. Crocker, a cousin of banker William H. Crocker. William Crocker was a parishioner at St. Matthew’s and the organ was dedicated to him and his wife Ethel Sperry Crocker by their four children.

As peninsula cities expanded, Burlingame drew up plans to extend Barroilhet Avenue, which would have bisected the school, which was deemed unacceptable and St. Matthew’s Military School was quietly closed in 1915.

Read more about St. Matthew’s Military School from the June 2014 issue of Gentry Magazine (click on image):