MMI Preparatory School in Freeland is a co-educational college preparatory school for students in grades 6 through 12 that has long been recognized as one of the premier private schools in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The small, college-like campus is established around Old Main, MMI’s foundation building. The campus is a masterful blend of design and technology – a perfect testament to MMI’s belief that tradition should walk hand-in-hand with innovation.
While the vision of what MMI was to be originated with our far-sighted founder, Eckley B. Coxe, he unexpectedly passed away before he could fully carry out his plans for the campus. However, he impressed his vision upon his wife, Sophia Georginia Coxe. She remained true to the ideals of her husband and from 1895 until the time of her death 31 years later, the history and destiny of the Mining and Mechanical Institute was in her hands.
All of the original buildings that belonged to the Mining and Mechanical Institute were erected largely through the financial contributions of Mrs. Coxe. On March 4, 1903 she began her endowment with a gift of $6,000 and by September 11, she had raised $33,000. By June 5, 1905 her endowment had reached $51,000. In this ratio she kept increasing her gifts so that at the time of her death the endowment equaled more than a quarter of a million dollars. The Angel of the Anthracite had secured MMI’s long-term future with her generous gifts. During her lifetime, Mrs. Coxe used over 90 percent of her income towards charitable gifts that benefitted area miners and their families.
In December of 1902, MMI’s original Old Main Building, it’s first permanent site at this address, was completed and classes began there during the spring semester of 1903. In 1908, Mrs. Coxe built the President’s residence on Ridge Street and in 1914, she added a chemistry lab and workshop to the Old Main building. Her proudest addition to the facility was the Gymnasium-Auditorium building that was located across the street from Old Main. At the dedication exercises on Thanksgiving Day, November 26, 1925 she emphasized that it was her intention that the students at MMI could amplify the Spartan idea of "mens san in corpore sano”, a sound mind in a sound body. This dedication was Mrs. Coxe’s last public appearance, and she passed away on March 1, 1926 at the age of 85.
But, Mrs. Coxe’s death did not end the growth of the school. During the early 1940’s, the growth of the student body and the need for additional classroom space resulted in a second floor addition to the science and workshop building. Other improvements included the development of an enlarged shop and manual training room under the gymnasium, plus the addition of a museum room.
Tragedy struck at MMI on graduation day, June 9, 1964 when a fire broke out in the basement of Old Main. The cupola atop the building, an MMI landmark, toppled at 3:00 P.M. and was consumed by the fire. Members of the community, students, and alumni fought to save the records of the school and climbed a ladder to the second floor to save all of the historical documents and the diplomas for the 22 members of the graduating class. Commencement was rescheduled for the next day and, during the summer of 1964, crews worked to repair the damage at a cost of $400,000.
In 1979, more change came to MMI with the construction of the Century Two building. Century Two was adjoined to Old Main and was dedicated on the 100th anniversary of MMI. Its purpose was to lead MMI into its second century of education. The Century Two building was a two-story addition that housed classroom space on the second floor, a new cafeteria and auditorium with adjacent rest rooms on the main floor, and the Lambert E. Broad Library in the basement.
In 2001, MMI completed a facility renovation with a $6.5 million expansion effort that resulted in the Marotta Hall for Science and Technology, the Athletics and Drama Complex, the Mildred Kulp Kahler Campus, and the Coxe Commons.
The Marotta Hall for Science and Technology houses air-conditioned laboratories designed for exploration of chemistry, biology, computer science, and individual research. The state-of-the-art facility houses equipment to rival that found on major universities and in research-and-development facilities.
Following Mrs. Coxe’s sentiment that it is just as important to enrich the body and soul as it is the mind, the modern Athletics and Drama Complex was designed to include areas for basketball, volleyball, badminton, tennis, and gymnastics as well as for physical education classes. A full complement of free weights and Paramount weight machines are also available.
Showcasing MMI’s commitment to the arts, the Sophia G. Coxe Stage provides a platform for drama, music, and a variety of other presentations and can also be found in the Complex.
MMI’s outdoor facilities currently include the Midred Kulp Kahler Campus. As you enter MMI from Ridge Street, you walk through the front gate into the Kahler Campus. An outdoor amphitheater was built to provide an open-air arena for events such as graduation and special performances. There are picnic tables for lunch, some of which were donated by the Class of 2009, and Sarah’s Garden where students can relax, named in memory of Sarah Yuscavage ’04.
In 2011-12, MMI began competitive play on the new athletic field complex. The athletic complex, which includes three fields for softball, baseball, and soccer, and an outdoor classroom area for nature study, was built on two parcels of land that were donated to MMI by the Peter Potochney family and the Freeland Industrial Development Council. The Cortese-Schiavo Trail, a 1.5-mile nature trail that loops around the fields, is part of the school’s $3 million athletic and environmental complex that will benefit MMI students, faculty, alumni, and the community. The Cortese-Schiavo Trail goes over two bridges and through a forest area. The fields and trail are located near MMI’s new athletic and environmental complex off St. Ann’s Road in Foster Township, just a few blocks from the school. The Cortese-Schiavo Trail is named in memory of Bernard Cortese, a member of the MMI Class of 1940, and Shayna Cortese-Schiavo. The Schiavo family made a major contribution to help fund construction of the trail. Hazleton Attorney, Pasco Schiavo, attended the dedication ceremony and spoke on behalf of his family.
Officials from MMI Preparatory School in Freeland also broke ground on Tuesday, September 21, 2010 for a new library which will expand the school’s campus for the second time in fewer than 10 years. MMI Vice President Jaclyn M. Fowler stressed the importance of a library to education. "Even in this high-tech world, every institution of learning needs a quality library for academia and research, and without a doubt the Turri Library will help MMI meet this goal. Students for generations to come will conduct learning and research in the library that will help shape and develop creative and critical thinking that prepares them for the world’s best colleges and universities.” The library opened to students for the 2012-13 school year.
MMI's facilities have grown and changed since the school's inception, but one thing has remained constant........the quality of an MMI education.