Boarding schools catering to the needs of teenaged (and younger) girls were popular in America from the late 18th century onward. One of the first in Central New Jersey was established at Somerville in 1848 as the "Somerset Institute for Young Ladies." The tavern - shown on the right in the image below - which stood at the fork in the road where the Somerville Library is today was moved down West End Avenue to the outskirts of town and became the school's first building.
In 1852 the Rev. Calvin Butler bought the property and added a third story to the original building. Still lacking space for increasing enrollment, he purchased the house to the west, eventually joining the two buildings as seen in the 1856 image below,
Rev. Butler and his wife welcomed the girls as part of their family. Accordingly, their "habits, manners and morals [were] under a constant and kind supervision." The year was broken into three 14-week terms. Pupils received a thorough education in academic subjects including religion. For this, including room and board, the cost was $150 (about $4,500 today). Music, Drawing, Painting, Leather, Cone and Wax Work was extra - as was washing at 25 cents per dozen pieces.
When Rev. Cornell died on September 11, 1876, the fall and winter terms were canceled. School was resumed in March 1877 but by that time the public school system in Somerset County had been well established for almost a decade and the Somerset Young Ladies Institute closed its doors after a few more terms.