Gould Academy began educating students in 1835 when the school, known then as Bethel High School, opened its doors for three terms. The following year the school opened as Bethel Academy for 134 students who paid $2.50 for tuition and $1.50 for room and board in the town. Reverend Daniel Gould of Bethel, having no children, agreed to leave his entire estate to the Academy in return for it being named after him upon his death. When he died in 1843, $842 resulted from the estate's residue and the name was changed to Gould's Academy and eventually to Gould Academy. The school served both the town of Bethel and a coeducational boarding population from the very beginning. This was a unique educational mission at the time.
In the early 1900s, William Bingham II from Cleveland discovered Bethel and Gould Academy. In the 1930s, Mr. Bingham began investing much of his inherited wealth in the school and built nearly every major building on campus today, naming them for associates who themselves had done great things for Gould: the new Holden Hall for Liberty Holden, class of 1853, who donated the funds to construct the original Holden Hall; Gehring Hall for Marian True Gehring, the wife of Dr. George Gehring, Bingham's personal physician and Academy Trustee; Hanscom Hall for Professor Frank E. Hanscom, the most influential Headmaster during the Academy's early years; Farnsworth Field House for Dr. George B. Farnsworth, Jr., grandson of Nathaniel True, and loyal Trustee; Walters Infirmary for Dr. Arthur L. Walters, Trustee and personal physician in Mr. Bingham's declining years; and Davidson Hall for Sidney W. Davidson, Mr. Bingham's attorney, Trustee, and long time Gould Board Chairman. Mr. Bingham's love for Gould Academy continues through the generosity of the Bingham Betterment Fund, which has supported the Academy in many ways since his death in 1955.
Headmasters of note include Nathaniel T. True (1848-1861), Frank E. Hanscom (1897-1936), Elwood F. Ireland (1940-1959), and Edmond J. Vachon (1959-1967). Gould Academy became a private boarding and day school in the fall of 1969 when Telstar High School, the local public high school, opened its doors to Bethel and the surrounding communities. Since that time, Gould’s curriculum has focused on the very highest standard of college preparation for a boarding and day school population of 240 students. Forty-five percent of the current student body come from the State of Maine, another fifteen percent from New England, and the remainder from throughout the country and around the globe.