Kaaterskill was founded in 1776 by Elwyn Bradbury (ca. 1680-1802(?)), a Hogwarts graduate and rhabdomancer who emigrated to the English colonies about 1700. Prior to the American Revolution, young colonial wizards and witches attended Hogwarts or received rudimentary home schooling. With the colonial muggles at war with the British empire, Bradbury decided it was time to found an American school of magic. He dowsed for an appropriate location and discovered a site of great magical power perched on a high cliff overlooking the Hudson.
Kaaterskill Academy is unplottable and appears to Muggles as the ruin of a 19th century resort hotel.
Some Notable Headmasters
- Elwyn Bradbury, 1776-1802
- Hrothgar (adopted son of Bradbury, no surname), 1802-1814
- Cordelia Cadwallader, 1828-1855
- Antonio Fresnel, 1930s-1960s
- Cyrus Flyte, 1960s-
Initially, Kaaterskill didn't separate its students into houses, because Bradbury felt that the Hogwarts house system tended to stereotype students. When he retired, the school had become so large that he called upon his successors to found houses, but he hoped that the houses wouldn't serve to mold students in the same way he'd experienced at Hogwarts. Students are assigned houses in a ceremony held at the beginning of their first year, using Bradbury's old dowsing rod.
- Bradbury, founded by Percival, adopted son of Elwyn Bradbury, for whom the house was named.
- Harrison, founded by Cordelia Cadwallader, who had been in the very first class at Kaaterskill and became professor of charms; named for Katherine Harrison, a gifted witch who had been persecuted in the Connecticut colony.
- Tenskwatawa, founded by Hrothgar, adopted son and successor of Elwyn Bradbury; named for a great shaman of the Shawnee people.
- Tituba, founded by Prince Vesey, born in the Carolinas of a lineage that stretched back to the ancient empire of Benin, professor and renowned practitioner of transfiguration; named for the West Indian sorceress Tituba, whose persecution at Salem Village helped lead to the 1692 Statue of Secrecy.
Kaaterskill is governed by a self-perpetuating Board of Trustees, which was created after the forced resignation of Hrothgar, the second headmaster, in 1814. The Board nominally answers to the U.S. Department of Magic; the level of influence of the Department on school affairs has historically been inversely proportional to the power of the current Headmaster. For most of Cyrus Flyte's tenure, Kaaterskill was generally autonomous and free of Department of Magic interference.