In the first half of the nineteenth century, Ashford Green was the active center of the Town of Ashford. Today, only one building survives from that time: the Ashford Academy, built in 1825. The first floor served as one of the town’s district schoolhouses (the Fifth School District). This schoolhouse was already being planned when a group of local citizens raised money by private subscription to add a second floor for use as a private academy for more advanced students. Academy sessions were held until 1875, after which the building served exclusively as a public school until 1949. Today the Ashford Historical Society uses the building for educational activities and to display some of their artifacts.
The Pequot School is a former public elementary school building located at 214 Main Street in the Southport section of Fairfield. Designed by W. H. McLean and built in 1917-1918 (it opened for classes in January 1918), it replaced an earlier Pequot School building erected in 1854. The school closed in 1972 and the town’s Board of Education used the building until 1984. Local citizens, concerned about intrusive commercial development targeting the building, formed the Southport Conservany, which purchased the former school and has since leased it to the Eagle Hill School, a private school for children with learning disabilities.
The Nathaniel White School, named in honor of an original settler of Cromwell who had left land in his will to be used for school purposes, was erected at 41 West Street in Cromwell in 1901 and dedicated in 1902. The original portion of the building was supplemented with a nearly identical southern block in 1925. Other additions were made to building over the years, which served as a high school until 1956 when a new Cromwell High School opened. The Nathaniel White School was then used as a middle school and, since c. 1985, the building has been the Town Hall of Cromwell.
Near the intersection of Rimmon Hill Road and 10 Pines Bridge Road in Beacon Falls is a one-room school house traditionally believed to have been built in 1779, when Beacon Falls was part of Derby. It is more likely that the Rimmon School House was one of six built in 1830, when Beacon Falls was part of the town of Oxford. The school was in use until 1953, when Laurel Ledge Elementary School opened. For 24 years the former school was owned by Raymond Lafferty, who had been in the last class at the Rimmon School before moving to Laurel Ledge in forth grade. His father had purchased it not long after the school closed and used it for storage. Raymond Lafferty had an antiques shop in the building, which he sold in 2010. The new owners wanted to sell the building to the town, but the town could not afford it.
The John Wesley Pentecostal Church was founded in Manchester in 1897. In the fall of 1907 (“Holiness Meeting in Manchester; In Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene,” Hartford Courant, April 10, 1908) the church became part of the Church of the Nazarene, a national evangelical denomination that formed in 1907-1908 through a series of mergers between various holiness churches and denominations, with the western-based Church of the Nazarene merging with the eastern-based Association of Pentecostal Churches of America. In 1958, the Manchester Church of the Nazarene moved from their original 1898 church at 466 Main Street to a new church at 236 Main Street. It was the culmination of a five-year building plan that included construction of a youth center (1954) and a parsonage (1957). The church’s pastor, Clarence E. Winslow, designed the buildings and prepared landscaping plans, personally clearing the land with the help of volunteers. Groundbreaking for the church occurred in the summer of 1957 and the following April (“Steeplejack Chore Planned by Pastor,” Hartford Courant, April 21, 1958) Rev. Winslow was lifted 90 feet by a giant crane to place a cross on the newly raised steeple. Rev. Winslow later moved to Florida where, in the 1970s, he led supporters of Creationism against the teaching of Evolution in Florida schools.
The Church of the Nazarene opened the Cornerstone Christian School in 1981. A new church building was erected at 218 Main Street in 1989, with Rev. Phillip Chatto this time attaching the cross at the top of the steeple (“Crowning touch installed at Manchester church,” by Randy Burgess, Hartford Courant, March 29, 1989). The previous church, now called the McLain Building, became part of the Cornerstone Christian School, housing the junior and senior high schools, and the former sanctuary was converted into a fellowship hall and gymnasium.
Center School is a one-room school house built on the Green in Prospect in 1867 at a cost of $900. It was erected to replace an earlier school house that had burned. The building was used as a school until the nearby Community School was built in 1936. The old school house was then used for various purposes by the town until it became a museum operated by the Prospect Historical Society.
The building at 30 Church Street in North Haven was built in 1887-1890 as the town’s Fourth District School. The lead-up to its erection was long delayed, as described by Sheldon B. Thorpe in his North Haven Annals (1892):
This district more frequently named the “Centre District,” has probably always had a larger enumeration of children than any in the town and less room, per capita, to educate them in. In 1872 the proposition to furnish a larger school building was brought forward but voted down. The next year the Board of Education, seeing the need, declared to the district that unless better facilities were provided, its proportion of the public fund would be suspended. This alarmed the obstructionists and their opposition was temporarily withdrawn. A new school site was purchased and proposals to build were invited, but it was impossible to get any farther. For nearly six years, delays of one nature and another were put forward and the lot remained unbuilt upon. The death of Capt. H. H. Stiles, in 1879, a member of the special building committee, rendered a re-adjustment of matters necessary, and the district voted to sell the new site at public auction, November 4, 1879. Its Cost at the time of sale had reached in round numbers, $500. It brought $157.
To appease the Board of Education and compromise with the more radical ones of the district, new furniture was placed in the old building and a tax laid to cancel the debt.
The population was increasing, and in 1884 the project to build came up a second time. It was defeated. It was defeated also in 1885 and 1886. In 1887 it came up again as usual, and in this year secured a recognition. A committee was chosen to more fully inquire into the persistency of the petitioners, and the former unanimously reported insufficient accommodations, and recommended a change of base. The report was adopted, and after a thorough examination the present location was decided upon and purchased in August 1887. It was identically the same tract as bought in 1873, with the addition of a frontage on Pierpont Park, where once stood the ancient Sabbath day houses, and later several sections of horse sheds.
The building was designed by North Haven’s prominent builder Solomon F. Linsley. The two rooms on the first floor were completed and ready for use in 1888 and a third room on the upper floor was fitted up in 1890. The fourth room remained unfinished at the time Thorpe was writing. Thrope goes on to write that
The practical working of the building has been found excellent in all respects. It is equipped with a finished basement, well, slate black-boards, bell, flag, modern furniture, and a local library. The course of study ranges from the kindergarten to that preparatory to entrance to the high school. It receives many pupils from other parts of the town, and is by far a more commodious and better equipped building than the average country town offers.
Today the building is a Masonic Hall, home to Corinthian Lodge #103, which was established in 1868. Corinthian #103’s first Lodge was located in the Northford section of North Branford. After a fire in 1879 Corinthian #103 moved into Totoket Hall in North Branford and in 1917 to Linsley Hall in North Haven. After the Town Fire Marshall ordered Linsley Hall closed because of fire hazard in 1945, the Lodge acquired and renovated the old District No. 4 School, which was dedicated as the new Lodge on November 1, 1947.
Many of the building’s decorative features and many of its windows have been removed over the years.