can not take credit for this history, it's a mixture of Charles
Burr Todd, Wilbur Thompson, Margaret Wixted and other information
I've come across in the past 8 years.
let me know if there are more areas you'd like me to explore
or if you have further information. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
or phone me at 860-364-7475.
Districts of Redding
1717 the Connecticut General Assembly required every parish
to have a school. The upkeep of the school was to come from
a tuition paid by the parents. However, towns did cover the
cost for anyone too poor to afford it. In townships where
no school-houses existed students received their instructions
at the teachers' home. When the teacher lacked a home the
class would be rotated among the homes of the families whose
turn it was to board the teacher.
towns grew from small communities to large rural settlements,
the location of the school house(s) became an issue. Imagine
a student living on Church Street, Georgetown traveling to
Black Rock Turnpike everyday to attend school…it simply wasn't
solution, to use Redding as an example was to divide the town
up into school divisions. At a parish meeting held December
26th, 1737, it was voted to have a parish school, and to maintain
said school by a parish rate. John Read, Joseph Lee, Joseph
Sanford, John Hull, Nathan Lion, Stephen Morehouse, and Daniel
Lion were the first school committee.
was also voted: "that said school be divided into three parts,
that is to say, five months in that quarter called the Ridge,
and five months on the West-side of the parish near the mill,
and two months at Lonetown, understanding that the Centre
of division is the meeting-house, and that Stephen Burr belongs
to the West-side." (apparently Stephen Burr belonging to the
West-side meant something back then.)
school area was defined only as "west of the Aspetuck
River"; likely located on Black Rock Turnpike.
mill was the grist mill operated by Jabez Burr on the
Saugatuck, and located according to Todd's History, "a
short distance above where Nobbs Crook road crosses the
stream"; located either at the present intersection near
the Redding Roadhouse or about where the Hull Cemetery
- The early Lonetown
School referred to here was on the common near the meeting
house. This common was also the parade ground. The location
of the Redding Center Fire House. (Route 107 erased much
of the "common" in 1955).
were the original school districts of the town; in them the
first rude school-houses were erected, and from one to the
other went the traveling school-master.
traveling school master system doesn't appear to have been
all that popular and/or effective, it lasted a short period
of five years as on December 10th, 1742, it was voted:
the interest of the school money belonging to the parish shall
be divided into three equal parts for the year ensuing, for
the maintaining of three separate schools (each to be kept
by a master,) one third part of the money for that part of
the Parish east of Little River, one third for that part of
the Parish between Little River and the Saugatuck River, and
one part west of the Saugatuck River. Provided, that each
part of the Parish fail in keeping a school as above said,
the other two parts that keep said school, shall equally divide
the said money between them, and if two parts of the Parish
fail in keeping a school as above said, that part of the Parish
that shall keep said school the three months, shall draw the
whole of the school money."
same districts are defined in the appropriation of the school
money in 1743 as being "the school on the West-side of Aspetuck
River (Redding Ridge), the school by Mill River (Saugatuck
River) and the school by the Church (Redding Center)."
1745 the appropriation was again made to the same districts,
with the provision that each should "keep a school with a
school master sufficiently capable to learn children to Write
seems to have been no change in the school districts until
1764, when it was voted: "that the school money should be
subdivided according to the lists within such subdivisions."
1767 the town of Redding was incorporated and in 1768 was
subdivided into seven (7) school districts. This first committee
appointed to select these districts consisted of Stephen Mead,
Daniel Hill, and Daniel Sanford.
School District No. 5 was referred to as the "Boston District"
and served the children from Georgetown and Redding. The schoolhouse
was located on Route 107, between Umpawaug Road and Little
Boston Road. 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.]
1879, there were ten (10) school districts and three (3) half
districts, these "half-districts" located on the borders of
adjoining towns, and partially supported by the neighboring
District Two: Ridge,
District Three: Couch's Hill,
District Four: Diamond Hill,
District Five: Boston,
District Six: Hull,
District Seven: Umpawaug,
District Eight: Lonetown,
District Nine: Pickett's Ridge,
District Ten: Foundry,
District Eleven: Georgetown, (Half-District)
District Twelve: Florida, (Half-District in Branchville)
District Thirteen: Rock house, (Half-District in Easton)
were still ten (10) school districts in the town, and three
(3) half districts, in 1906. The number of students is noted
in this report:
One: Centre, 30 Students
District Two: Ridge, 48 Students
District Three: Couch's Hill, 15 Students
District Four: Diamond Hill, 17 Students
District Five: Boston, 54 Students
District Six: Hull, 20 Students
District Seven: Umpawaug, 51 Students
District Eight: Lonetown, 29 Students
District Nine: Pickett's Ridge, 9 Students
District Ten: Foundry, 23 Students
District Eleven: Georgetown, 40 Students (Half-District)
District Twelve: Florida, 46 Students (Half-District)
District Thirteen: Rock house, 5 Students (Half-District)
total number of children enumerated was 387. The whole number
who attended school was 406.]
1909 Connecticut law changed this in-town multiple schoolhouse
system. The law made each town a *single school district and
required a local school board to maintain control of all public
schools within its limits (CGS § 10-240). The law, was intended
to improve education by providing increased state involvement
in public schools while still permitting considerable local
control and accountability.
example: Redding School District, Wilton School District,
Weston School District.
law took some time to implement but one by one the District
Schools of Redding were decommissioned. Gilbert and Bennett
School, built in 1915, took in children from the Boston District
No. 5 School and Georgetown District No. 11 School.
6, 1920: The sale of the Boston District schoolhouse to M.
Connery of Georgetown forms 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 M. Connery and
on March 15, 1921, he sold it to James Driscoll, who used
the site to build a home. Parts of the old school house were
used in the construction of the garage.]
Hill Academy in Redding Center was remodeled to accommodate
children from other Redding districts in 1929 which completed
the consolidation of Redding Schools. Together the Hill Academy
and Gilbert and Bennett School would serve the communities
of Redding and Georgetown until 1948-49 when the Redding Elementary
School opened to serve all of the children in Redding. Gilbert
and Bennett School would continue to serve Georgetown, Wilton
and parts of Weston until 1964.
grew from a population of 1,599 people in 1930 to 1,758 in
1940 and by 1950 there were 2,037 people. So, the town government
being aware of the changes taking place needed two things:
a larger town house and a larger school. They decided to use
the existing Hill Academy location for the town house and
build a new school on property the town had purchased in 1938
from F. Howard Burritt just up the road. The plan to convert
the Hill Academy into the new town house would have to wait
as children in grades 1 and 2 would still attend school in
that building until the late 1950's. Redding was growing at
a much fast rate than they had anticipated.
new Redding Elementary School was built in 1948 with 8 classrooms,
with the Gymnasium Auditorium added on in 1949. This was "Redding's
School" the first new public school built in Redding
since 1879 and I believe that they named it "Redding
Elementary School" for that reason.
of Redding and Georgetown's children attended this
school when in 1957-58, a new wing was added to the facility,
doubling its capacity and the 7th and 8th grade students of
the Gilbert and Bennett School were transferred to Redding
1957-59 Redding built the High School, it was for not only
Redding but Easton too. It was the first time Redding students
would not have to travel other towns to attend High School.
1965-66, Redding built the John Read Middle School to accommodate
children in the grades 6-8. The land the school is located
on was donated to the town by Lester Wolfe for $1. Some people
in town felt Mr. Wolfe's generosity warranted the naming of
the school after him: Wolfe School, while others asked: "who
outside the town will know who Wolfe is?" John Read,
the founder of the town, was thought to be a better name for
the school and was approved by the majority of towns people.
Four years after JRMS was completed the population of Redding
had climbed to 5,590!
to come on this topic...my "real" job calls.
School on Redding Ridge, Time Magazine Article 1938
Jul. 25, 1938 - Last week the headmaster of a private preparatory
school made an astounding announcement: he was proud that
next year his school's enrollment would be more than twice
this year's; he was mortified that because of this increase
the school would no longer be able to have more teachers than
pupils, but would have only two teachers to every three boys.
headmaster: Kenneth Bonner, 47. The school: Redding Ridge
School, Redding Ridge, Conn. Enrollment, 1937-38: 5. Enrollment
so far for next year: 12. Teachers, 1937-38: 6. Teachers next
year: 8. Tuition: $1,400. Reason for the increased enrollment:
a unique idea in preparatory education which proved highly
successful in its first year of operation.
Bonner based the Redding Ridge Plan on the conviction that
only one thing can be done thoroughly at a time. Redding Ridge
prepares boys for College Entrance Examination Board papers,
and its courses are no departure. Novelty of the system lies
in shuffling the courses so that a boy studies only one subject
per year. In the first year (known as Second Form) pupils
study geography —as related to literature, mathematics, world
history, human relationships. Next year French is the major
subject and Third Formers live in a separate house, speak
only French, conduct all classes in French, master by year's
end better than the equivalent of fourth year French conversation,
composition, history, literature. (No other language is offered,
on the grounds that it is better to learn one language well
than to pick up a quickly forgotten smattering of several).
Fourth Formers study the arts. Fifth Formers the sciences,
Sixth Formers history and literature, closely correlated.
Each successive year the subjects of previous years are applied
to the new field of study.
Bonner got his big idea during the War when, at high-pressure
Plattsburg Officers Training Camp, he was polished as an officer
in three months, simply by concentration. But militaristic
regimentation is taboo at Redding Ridge. Boys are encouraged
to swim, play tennis and golf, sports which they will enjoy
later in life. (Mr. Bonner wryly admits he would have had
trouble developing a football team with five boys.)
defense of the Redding Ridge Plan, Headmaster Bonner says:
"I am simply advocating that the system under which a boy
is asked to do his work shall not be as irrational as a system
which would require of an adult that he be a lawyer from nine
to ten o'clock, a doctor from ten to eleven, a stock broker
from eleven to twelve, and an author from twelve to one. It
is my unalterable conviction that under such a system all
but the rarest adult would be foredoomed to failure in all
capacities, and do his best work in none."
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