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.
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History of Schools in Georgetown
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
& Bennett School (1915 - Present)
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.
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
Employees also have to be credited for agreeing to postpone
wage increases and bonuses to help finance construction of
that time period, there were nine (9) school districts in
Wilton. Adding the Gilbert & Bennett School would create the
tenth (10th ) district.
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.
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.)
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
fundraising affair to provide special extras for the school
was the annual Swedish smorgasbord of home-cooked foods.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
was the first year without a graduation class because there
were now only six grades after the completion of Redding Elementary
1960, the Redding Town Report indicates trouble in Gilbert
& Bennett School District 10:
of Schools, Raymond Lumley wrote:
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
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.
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.
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
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."
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
District No. 10
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.
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.
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
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]
further information on Georgetown be sure to check out the
Wilbur F. Thompson
page which includes:
Old Silver Mine
Old Red Mill
Georgetown Post Office
Old Mulberry Trees
Old Turnpike through Georgetown
Red Shop by the Toll Gate
The Old Grist
The Old Stone
The Old Woolen
The Old Coal
Settlement of Georgetown and the Schools Attended
The Old Boston
History of Georgetown Churches
The Old Churches
The Old Pipe
The Old Tory
The Old Boundary
The Iron Trail
The Old Post Rider
in Civil War Times
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