History of Redding Connecticut (CT) Header
Audio Files & Oral History
Books about Redding
Branchville, CT History
Churches in Redding
Churches in Georgetown
Daily History Archives
Donate to the H of R
Early Families of Redding
Early Settlement History
Early Manufacturers
Famous People of Redding
First Telephones in Redding
Flood of 1955
Georgetown, CT History
Bonsignores Store
Churches of Georgetown
Early Businesses
Early Roadways
Early Settlements
Flood of 1955
Historic Homes
Housing & Development
Georgetown Vol. Fire Dept.
Georgetown Pictures
Gilbert & Bennett
Schools of Georgetown
Wilbur F. Thompson
Georgetown Redevelopment
Gilbert & Bennett History
Hiking Trails in Redding
History of Schools
Huntington Park
Indian Paths thru Redding
Landscape- Farms, Waterways, Geology
Mark Twain in Redding, CT
Little Brick Schoolhouse
Maps of Redding, CT
My brother Sam is dead
News 1966-1992
Old Homes of Redding
Parish History (1729-67)
Pictures of Redding, CT
Putnam Park
RBGC History
Redding Center History
Redding Country Club
Redding Remembered
Redding Ridge History
Summary of Land Use
Wars- Revolutionary, Civil
West Redding History
Sponsors Page
Redding Businesses
Redding Builders
Redding New Construction
Redding Real Estate
Redding Restaurants
Redding Organizations
Redding Town Site
Redding Pilot
Redding Elementary
John Read Middle School
Joel Barlow High School
Region 9 Schools
RBGC Web site
Redding Fire & EMS #1
Mark Twain Library
League of Women Voters
Redding Neighbors & Newcomers
About the Designer
Contact Us


History of the Early Schools of Georgetown, Connecticut  

Included in this Georgetown Schools History section is information I have gathered from Wilbur F. Thompson articles. More information will be added as I find it.

Please let me know if there are more areas you'd like me to explore or if you have further information. Contact bcolley@snet.net or phone me at 860-364-7475.

The History of Schools in Georgetown

The first school the children of the early settlers of Georgetown attended stood on the west bank of the Saugatuck River at the foot of Nobb's Crook hill a short distance north of where Ferdinand Gorham's house in what is now Redding Glen (Glen Hill section). It was one of three schools established by the parish of Redding, town of Fairfield, in 1737, and was known as the West Redding district school. It was a small log structure with rude seats made of slabs and a stone fireplace. The district comprised what is now Diamond Hill, the Boston District and that part of Georgetown in the town of Redding. The other schools in Redding at this time were called the Lonetown(Redding Center) and the Ridge(East Redding) district schools.

In 1767 the town of Redding was organized and in 1768 was divided into school districts. Boston District No. 5 served the children from the section now known as Georgetown in Redding. The schoolhouse was located on Route 107, between Umpawaug Road and Little Boston Road. It was for many years a famous school. Elias Bennett, later known as Post Rider Bennett, was teacher from 1800 to 1815. Nathaniel Perry, Walter Bates, Aaron B. Hull, Gershom Banks, Oliver Dudley, and William Bennett taught in the old schoolhouse later.

In the 1850's a second schoolhouse was built on or near the site of the first schoolhouse. It was a great improvement on the first school, where the seats had no backs, a wide board fastened to the wall on three sides of the room formed the desks, and an open fireplace to heated the room in winter. The new school was equip with desks, seats with backs, and a box stove standing in the center of the room to heat the school in winter. In the winter of 1864 Wilbur F. Thompson, the historian, was a pupil in the Boston school and noted: The ages of the pupils ranged from six to twenty years. Many were men and women grown. Teachers in those days had to be men of muscle as well as of brains.

Following are the names of the teachers in the Boston District school from 1864 to 1872: winter terms; David L. Rowland, Seth Platt Bates, John Belden Hurlbutt, Ambrose Platt, Arthur B. Hill; summer terms, Sarah Hill and Emma Olmstead.

In those days the teachers boarded with the parents of the children who attended school, it was called "boarding around the district." The schools were not free schools as they are today, and the burden was heavy on many par-ents who had large families. Following are names of the pupils who attended the winter term of 1864, giving the father's name also: Orrin Adams' children - Leroy, Imogene, Julia; William Albin's children - Frank, Lydia, Warson, Albert; Burr Bennett's children - William, Polly, Mary, Elmer; Gershom Banks' children - George, Jane, Will; Zalmon Fil-low's child - Effie; Aaron Fillow's child - Fred; Joseph Goodsell's child - George B.; William Gorham's child - Ferdinand; Richard Higgins' children - Richard, John and Ellen; Moses Hill's children - Gcrshom, Deborah, Ebenezer, Mary, Samantha; Bradley Hill's children - Arthur B. and Albert; Burr Hill's children - Helen, Celia, Nathaniel; Edmund Lee's children - John, Margaret, Thornton and Jessie; Henry Lee's child - Frank; Ashur Marchant's children - Joel and Arthur; Aaron Olmstead's children - Hawley, Sarah, Samuel, Eva; Granville Perry's children - Georganna, Eva, Timothy; Parson's grandchild - Hattie; John Rady's children - John, James and Ellen; Peter Smith's children - Eddie and Ruth; Dimon Sturges' children - Oscar and Ida; Edward Thomp-son's children - Wilbur F. and Herbert B.; Francis Welch's children - Mary and Daniel.

The ancestors of many who have lived in Georgetown attended school here, as it was the nearest one in the neighborhood. The sale of the Boston district schoolhouse to M. Connery of Georgetown formed the closing chapter in the history of a school that had had an existence of over 150 years. On December 6, 1920 this property was sold to Michael Connery and on March 15, 1921, he sold it to James Driscoll, who used the site to build a home. Parts of the old schoolhouse were used in the construction of the garage.

The first school built in The Village of Georgetown was started about 1800; the school house stood near where Walter Perry's house now stands. Not much is known about this school; it was a small building and some of the teachers who had taught in the Boston school taught here.

A second schoolhouse, School House No. 2, was built in 1818 and stood on the south end of William Wakeman' s home lot. This also was a small building; it is not known how long school was held here. In 1824 William Wakeman sold his farm to Benjamin Gilbert and bought the Matthew Bennett place on the road to Weston, years later owned by Jonathan Betts which was across from the Swedish Church. Mr. Wakeman moved the little school house up the hill and attached it to the rear of his new house for a kitchen.

The third schoolhouse, School House No. 3, stood in the hollow in back of Wilkie Batterson's blacksmith shop on the road to Nod, which today it is the area at the junction of Routes 7 and 107. At this time or later the present school district of Georgetown was formed, taking in what is known as Chicken Street, which at that time was a thickly settled section. This schoolhouse was used until the winter of 1850, when it was burned.

A new site was purchased on what is now known as School Hill and the er-ection of a new school was commenced. Until the completion of the new building the school sessions were held in Taylor's hat shop, which stood at the top of what was known as Aunt Sal Taylor's hill, on the road to Nod. This shop was later moved and attached to the Taylor home, later owned by William Lockwood *(now the Pfhal house) and is part of the house today. The new school house, School House No. 4 was up-to-date, hav-ing seats and desks. Something new for Georgetown, the old school houses having benches for seats and a board fastened around the wall for desks.

Among the teachers who taught in School House No. 4 were Peter Fayerweather, George Godfrey, Lyman Keeler, Charles Sherwood, Miss Sturges (daughter of Charles Sturges,) Miss Margaret Moore, Luzon Jelliff and many others later than 1876.

Among the scholars who att-ended school here from 1860-1864 were Francis, Eugene, Aaron, Frank G. and. Lydia Albin; Lester, Ezra P. and William R. Bennett; Frederick Brown; Medora and Allie Batterson; Will, James and John Corcoran; Francis de Garmo and sister George; Charles and John Gould; Mary, George, Eva, Will, Lester, Lucius and Luther Godfrey; Frank and Mary Elwell; Emma and Addie Hurlbutt; Rosalie, Will, Gilson and. little Sid Jennings; Charles, Carrie, John, Francis and. Ida Jelliff; Augusta, Rebecca and Ben Lobdell; Addie, Alida and Joe Lockwood; Ida and Will Lee; Samuel J. and Mary Miller; Huldah, Eli G. and Nettie Main; Ed, Julia and Annie Mills; David, William E., Edmund, Isadora, George, Nettie and William H. Osborn; Charles and Dell Olmstead; El-lza Prior; Jennie Luick; Alice, Lizzie, Ida, Stell and Eddie St. John; Wilbur F. and Herbert Thompson; Frank, Mary and Dan Welsh; Henry Willams; Charlie Wells, and others whose names are forgotten.

The School House No. 4 was enlarged many times to accommodate the growing school population. Many persons of years past had pleasant memories of the old school house, surrounded by its fine grove of trees. And many friendships that began there lasted through the long years that passed since they were boys and girls attending school. But the old school house on the hill outlived its day and generation, and School House No. 5 was built by Gilbert and Bennett to take its place in 1914-15.

Gilbert & Bennett School (1915 - Present)

The Gilbert and Bennett School, built in 1914-15 through the generosity of the *factory owners, was a model school for the community. It contained eight separate classrooms, an auditorium, kitchen, and cafeteria, a principal's office and rooms equipped for manual training and domestic science. Built on one level for safety reasons, each room had its own exit door. There were neat inside bathrooms (most students still had "outdoor" bathrooms at home) and a spacious playground.

The school's modern layout and amenities made it a prototype for every school building committee in the area to follow, it was a fitting memorial to those who had the best interests of Georgetown at heart. The school was deeded jointly to the Towns of Redding and Wilton, but with children coming from three different towns (Weston too), administration posed a problem. The General Assembly in 1919 approved **School District #10 to embrace parts of Weston, Wilton and Redding. Due to the schools location it was added to the Wilton's list of School Districts.

*G&B Employees also have to be credited for agreeing to postpone wage increases and bonuses to help finance construction of the school.

**At that time period, there were nine (9) school districts in Wilton. Adding the Gilbert & Bennett School would create the tenth (10th ) district.

Miss Ina E. Driscoll came as its teaching principal in 1926 and remained for 31 years (she taught math). Enrollment totaled about 250 pupils. Several residents today fondly remember their schooldays and the kindness of Miss Driscoll, whose caring influence extended into their very homes.

She became known as the "Mayor of Georgetown" to adults in the community during the depression - helping families with food, shelter, clothing, all confidentially. She was known as "Old Hawkeye" to the students. A portrait of her by long-time resident Roland Mattson hung in the auditorium, so "Old Hawkeye" kept watch over the students even after her retirement. (1,000 people attended her retirement party in 1957.)

School was at times referred to as having a "chicken wire curriculum" for its affiliation with Gilbert & Bennett. But in reality the school was more forward than "backward" thinking. For instance, instead of paying for participation in the National PTA association, the school used the money saved by remaining localized to purchase a motion picture camera to film students and events.

Another fundraising affair to provide special extras for the school was the annual Swedish smorgasbord of home-cooked foods.

An example of the religious interrelation was the longstanding school custom required that each girl in the graduating class design and sew her own graduation dress. This white dress would later be worn at confirmation time.

Because of the nearby railroad station, most of the "G&B" graduates went on to further education at Norwalk High School or to trade and technical courses in Danbury. But most simply went to work.

By the Numbers

In 1927 they were 116 Redding children at the school. Total enrollment from the three towns was 300. The other three schools in Redding totaled only 100. Girls outnumbered the boys in Georgetown at that time with 68 girls and 48 boys. By 1936 enrollment was down to 149.

In 1946, total enrollment had risen to 265, 100 children coming from Redding. One year later enrollment dipped slightly to 244, 99 coming from Redding. These numbers come from Redding's town annual reports and likely do not reflect that in addition to these numbers, the Gilbert and Bennett School was also accommodating Wilton Center School's 7th and 8th grades. The school was so crowded that it was using the auditorium as makeshift classrooms.

Ten years later, Gilbert and Bennett School District No. 10 enrollment was at 294. 173 from Wilton, 121 from Redding. Four (4) more total students than in 1955.

1958 was the first year without a graduation class because there were now only six grades after the completion of Redding Elementary School.

In 1960, the Redding Town Report indicates trouble in Gilbert & Bennett School District 10:

Superintendent of Schools, Raymond Lumley wrote:

"Another of our unsolved problems at the moment is long range planning for District 10, Georgetown. The solution to this problem may have many implications for both the future plans of Wilton and Redding."

Soon after, the Redding and Wilton School Boards, decided to discontinued School District Number 10's use. The school building would have reverted back to Gilbert & Bennett if mutually agreeable arrangements had not been made between the Towns of Redding and Wilton. But an agreement was reached and The Gilbert & Bennett Manufacturing Company "quit claimed" its interest to the Town of Wilton when these arrangements were made by the two towns in 1964.

The low building with its Spanish tile roof and pretty playground was later leased to the Landmark Academy, a private school and a trust fund established in 1906 by Edwin Gilbert, son of the mill founder, was re-activated to benefit children who reside in the former School District 10.

In the present day (2008), the Gilbert and Bennett School is in "limbo" yet again as Wilton appears to be holding onto properties on New Street in order to profit on the Gilbert & Bennett Factory Renovations. Proof of the perceived monetary increase Wilton is waiting on was reported on in the Wilton Bulletin recently:

"Wilton Second Selectman Harold Clark wanted to know why the town [of Wilton] doesn't just consider selling the properties. [First Selectman] Brennan said the houses - particularly those on New Street near the former Gilbert and Bennett wire mill site that is being redeveloped - will become more valuable if the town hangs on to them."

While financial profit is a noble goal for a township, historic preservation is a priceless asset to the community as a whole. Save Gilbert and Bennett School... when it's gone, it's gone for good.

School District No. 10

At that time period School District No. 10 was created, there were nine (9) school districts in Wilton. Adding the Gilbert & Bennett School would create the tenth (10th ) district.

The Gilbert and Bennett School was deeded jointly to the Towns of Redding and Wilton, but with children coming from three different towns, administration posed a problem. The Connecticut General Assembly in 1919 approved School District No. 10 to embrace parts of Weston, Wilton and Redding. Due to the schools location (I believe) it was added to the Wilton's list of School Districts with the clear understanding that if the school was decommissioned the building would become the property of Gilbert and Bennett Manufacturing Company if "mutually agreeable arrangements" could not be made by the towns.

What makes the Gilbert and Bennett School unique is that it was a modern school building constructed 13 years before Redding or Wilton consolidated their district schoolhouses into modern buildings.

[Wilton's Center School circa 1928; Redding's Hill Academy circa 1929. *It would be interesting to see when Ridgefield and Weston completed the consolidation of their one-room schoolhouses…time doesn't allow for that at the moment]

For further information on Georgetown be sure to check out the Wilbur F. Thompson page which includes:

The Old Silver Mine
The Old Red Mill
The Georgetown Post Office
The Old Mulberry Trees
The Old Turnpike through Georgetown
The Old Red Shop by the Toll Gate
The Old Grist Mill
The Old Stone Mill
The Old Woolen Mills
The Old Coal Mine
The First Settlement of Georgetown and the Schools Attended
The Old Boston District School
The History of Georgetown Churches
The Old Churches of Georgetown
The Old Pipe Organ
Christmas in Old Georgetown
The Old Tory House
The Old Boundary Rock
The Iron Trail Through Georgetown
The Old Post Rider
Georgetown in Civil War Times

Back to TOP | Back to Redding Section | Back to Georgetown Section



History of Redding is a not a business or an organization..It's one person working to promote the history of his hometown
and surrounding areas. All costs are out-of-pocket so donations and/or sponsorships will allow me to dedicate more time
and effort to research and updates.