Landon School was established just weeks before the Stock Market crash of 1929, by an idealistic young teacher named Paul Landon Banfield and his wife, Mary Lee. Banfield was a graduate of St. John's College and a teacher, coach and athletic director at Emerson Institute and Dewitt Preparatory School. With a $2,000 loan from a former student's father, the Banfields opened Landon School on September 12, 1929, as a day and boarding school with 23 students. Within the first year, the young headmaster had expelled half of his freshmen class for failing to meet his demanding standards.
"Banny," as he was affectionately known to his faculty (many of them retired military men), had wanted to create a school that would not only teach academic subjects, but also instill values that would develop character and integrity. The ethics classes he held for seniors in his office are legendary, and he persevered through the challenges of the Depression, then the War and the upheaval of the 1960s, retiring finally in 1970 with a school well established for its excellence in academics, the arts and athletics. He was said to have been the original Landon "Bear."
Landon relocated from its first home at 2131 Massachusetts Avenue on D.C.'s Embassy Row to Bradley and Wilson Lanes in Bethesda in 1934. In 1936, Landon School expanded to its present 75-acre location at 6101 Wilson Lane in Bethesda. Today, the school maintains many of the traditions of the Banfield era, with its emphasis on character development as well as the Code of Character which embraces the Honor Code written by students in the 1960s and the more recent Civility Code. The School has experienced a recent revitalization in terms of its facilities and programs, under the leadership of Headmaster David M. Armstrong.
To find out more about Landon's history, read "Courage, Commitment and Change: A Personal History of Landon School," written by Thomas W. Dixon, the School's official historian. The book was published to coincide with Landon's 75th anniversary in 2004. It is available in the School libraries and the Landon Store.
Landon School Headmasters
Paul Landon Banfield 1929-1970
Hugh C. Riddleberger 1970-1981
Malcolm Coates 1981-1989
Damon F. Bradley 1990-2004
David M. Armstrong 2004-present
Learn more about Landon's history or listen to the school songs.