The community of Gales Ferry in Ledyard was served for generations by a one-room schoolhouse. The surviving school building, erected in 1868, is the third to have stood on the same site (4 Hurlbutt Road) since 1750. It was used as a school until a new two-room building (now the Gales Ferry Community Center) was opened in January 1929. The former Gales Ferry School House was later restored by the Ledyard Historical Society.
About 1850 the town of East Windsor organized its schools into twelve districts. The 7th District School in the village of Melrose was built around that time and remained in use as a school until 1938. The Melrose Library was also located here from its founding in the 1930s until it closed in 1950. After that the building, located at 195 Melrose Road, was used by local community groups as a meeting place. In more recent years it was restored by the Melrose School Restoration Committee. The building’s Neoclassical front portico is a later addition that fits in well with the school’s Greek Revival architecture.
The current City Hall of Norwalk (125 East Avenue) was built in 1938 as Norwalk High School. Its original entrance, since altered, faced East Avenue. It and other buildings in Norwalk contain one of the largest collections of WPA Depression era murals in the country (45). Twenty-three of the City Hall murals were restored in the 1980s. Others were brought to the building bringing the total on display there to thirty-one (now thirty after the recent removal of a controversial painting). The High School moved to a new building in 1971 and the 1938 building became City Hall in place of the 1912 City Hall in South Norwalk (which became home to the Norwalk Museum until 2011).
Bowden Hall, part of the campus of Cheshire Academy, is the oldest schoolhouse still in continuous use in the state of Connecticut. Located at the corner of Academy Road and Highland Avenue in Cheshire, it was erected in 1796 for the Episcopal Academy, which would become the Cheshire School in 1903, the Roxbury School in 1917 and finally Cheshire Academy in 1937. As described in Edwin R. Brown’s Old Historic Homes of Cheshire (1895):
The original academy was erected in the year 1796. This included only the square building north of Bronson Hall; the corner-stone was laid with Masonic honors, April 28, 1796. An address was delivered on this occasion by Rev. Reuben Ives, through whose influence, more than of any other one man, the academy was established [in 1794] at Cheshire. He was followed by Rev. Dr. Bronson [the Academy’s first principal], who delivered an able and appropriate address. This is the oldest institution of its kind in this country, being for many years the most celebrated seat of learning in the State, under the control of the Episcopal Church, and, until the formation of Trinity College, was both college and seminary for this and other dioceses. For several years this institution was open for the instruction of young ladies, and several in this town, and some from other towns, took advantage of this excellent and unusual opportunity for those days.
Until 1865, Bowden Hall was the school‘s only building. Many have been constructed since. In 1867, Bronson Hall was built just north of Bowden Hall and attached to the older building by a passageway. Read the rest of this entry »
Happy Halloween! The Conference House is a building in Glastonbury, built around 1830, that possibly once stood where the First Church of Glastonbury was erected in 1837. It was moved to another site down Main Street, just north of the Joseph Wright House. Called the Conference House, the church used it for meetings, lectures and concerts. Starting in the late 1830s it was used as a private school run by one of Deacon Wright’s sons. In 1894, Deborah Goodrich Keene, who lived at 2016 Main Street, the Hale-Goodrich House, bought the building and moved it across the street to its current address of 2000 Main Street. In 1911 she leased the house to Glastonbury’s first telephone switchboard. She later converted it into a private residence. Floodwaters from Hubbard Brook almost reached the roofline of the house in 1936.
The Willington Glass Company, founded in 1814, gave its name to the Glass Factory School District in the Town of Willington. The district was served by a one-room schoolhouse, located at the modern address of 18 Glass Factory School Road. According to page 107 of the book A Glimpse of Willington’s Past by Isabel B. Weigold, published by the Willington Historical Society in 1991, the school was erected in 1858. A sign on the building gives a date of 1854. It replaced an earlier school on the site, dating back perhaps to 1727. After the school districts were consolidated, Albert Benjamin bought the house and converted it into a residence in 1936.