Renbrook School in West Hartford, a private school for children age 3 through grade 9, began in 1935 when several area families decided to start a progressive school. Originally named the Tunxis School, it was first located in a rented house on Albany Avenue in West Hartford. Within months it moved to a larger house at the corner of Farmington and Outlook Avenues and was renamed Junior School. In 1937 the school erected its own building on Trout Brook Drive. By the mid-1950s the enrollment had increased and the school needed to expand again. The next move would be to the estate called Renbrook. This was the name given to the West Hartford mansion built (c. 1931) by famed aviation engineer Frederick Rentschler and his wife Faye Belden Rentschler. Frederick Brant Rentschler (1887-1956) co-founded Pratt & Whitney Aircraft in 1925. In 1929 he purchased 80 acres on Avon Mountain and soon constructed a Tudor Revival/French chateauesque mansion on the site. After Rentschler‘s death his estate announced it would lease the mansion to a worthy non-profit. The Junior School was chosen and in 1958 moved to its new home, also taking the new name of Renbrook School. Read the rest of this entry »
In 1819, on Washington Green, a meeting house was constructed on the site where the Judea Parish House stands today. The building had a large upstairs space for town and church meetings and the walls were lined with shelves that held the town’s first library. The first floor had several rooms. These were used for a time by the Judea Female Seminary, run by Mary Brinsmade, sister-in-law of Frederick W. Gunn, founder of the Gunnery School. In the 1870s, Gunn moved the building to its current location (16 Kirby Road), attaching a former one-room district school house to the rear. After Gunn‘s death in 1881, the house was the residence of his widow, Abigail Irene Brinsmade Gunn, familiarly known to Gunnery students as Aunt Abbey. For several years the house was a dormitory for the Gunnery School known as The Abbey. In 1912 it again became a private residence. It was remodeled by its new owners, who added a north wing around 1919-1925.
The Town Hall of Westport, 110 Myrtle Avenue, was originally built in 1923 as the Bedford Public School. In 1978 the school closed and the building was converted to become the Town Hall, opening in 1983. The Town Hall had previously been in a building at 90 Post Road East, built in 1908.
Adjacent to the Hadlyme Congregational Church in East Haddam is the Hadlyme North School. A one-room schoolhouse, it was built in 1794 and was initially run by the Ecclesiastical Society, later by a School Society and then by the town starting in 1865. The school closed in 1929 and by 1967 the building was in danger of demolition. The North School Society was formed to preserve the building, which is maintained by the Society and the Congregational Church.
After the 8-room wood-frame Center School in Watertown burned down in December of 1906, it was replaced by the brick Baldwin School at 68 North Street in 1907. The new school was named for Truman P. Baldwin (1838-1907). An interesting Arts & Crafts building that combines Classical and Victorian design elements, the school was in use until 2000, when the town opened a new school. The town sold the building to a developer planning to convert it into elderly housing (neighbors challenged the zoning for housing in court). In 2014, however, the building was sold to the Taft School. Read the rest of this entry »
In 1893, Emily Wells Foster, a Sunday school teacher at the Morgan Street Mission School/Morgan Street Chapel in Hartford, started the nation’s first nursery for blind children in a house on Kenyon Street in Hartford. Her efforts began with her interest in a blind baby on Hartford’s East Side who spent his waking hours in a small pen in a dingy room. In 1983 she also became Assistant Secretary of the State Board of Education for the Blind, later serving as Secretary and Treasurer from 1901 to 1905. (“Will Honor Benefactor Of Blind People: Memorial to Be Placed on Grave of Mrs. Foster, Who Started Education Program Here,” Hartford Courant, November 12, 1936) The nursery school soon moved to a larger residence on Asylum Avenue. A grammar school was also added, which moved to a new building at 120 Holcomb Street in Hartford in 1911. A Colonial Revival building, it was designed by Andrews, Jacques & Rantoul, the same firm that designed the Governor’s Mansion and the Hartford Club. The Nursery and Kindergarten for the Blind had moved to Garden Street in Farmington, but later moved to join the grammar school in the building on Holcomb Street after a fire. The school would become known as the Connecticut Institution and Industrial Home for the Blind, then the Connecticut Institute for the Blind. In 1952 it was renamed the Oak Hill School. Today Oak Hill serves children and adults with intellectual, developmental and physical disabilities.