Back to School at the Stamford Historical Society (October 2014 – July 2015)
Everyone has fond memories of their school days—and now’s your chance to relive those happy times. A new exhibit: Stamford School Days 1641-1971 has opened at the Stamford Historical Society at 1508 High Ridge Road. This exhibit showcases Stamford schools and in particular the Martha Hoyt (formerly Willard School) building that celebrated its 100th birthday in 2014. The former Hoyt School building serves as the Historical Society’s headquarters.
The exhibit tells the story of the development of the educational system in Stamford from the earliest wooden schoolhouse of the 1600’s through to the construction and opening of Westhill High School in 1971. Stamford’s first recorded school building was built 300 years prior to Westhill. From that time until 1852, schooling in Stamford was conducted in several one-room schoolhouses spread across the town. In 1852, Stamford’s first graded multi-room schoolhouse was built of wood on Broad Street. It burned down in 1867 and was replaced by a brick structure. In the meantime, several other graded schools were built, all looking fairly similar and most having 4-8 rooms. Gradually larger schools were added and a High School was created in 1873. As Stamford embarked on a campaign to build larger and more modern graded schools the one-room schoolhouses vanished. The last one, the Bangall School, shut its doors in 1949.
Stamford School Days is divided into three parts. In the Red Gallery the focus is on public school education in Stamford from 1852 through the early 20th century. The exhibit features many photos, school bells, copybooks, school uniforms and paper ephemera. The Society’s fascinating collection of vintage samplers is also displayed as samplers constituted a way for young girls to show their mastery of letters, numbers and needlepoint. Next, the Hallway Gallery is divided into a public school side depicting the earliest and latest period of school development with one room schoolhouses on one side and the newest schools on the other. The other side illustrates some of the earliest private schools and parochial schools. The Halliday Gallery is dedicated to Stamford’s private schools. Most of these schools are long gone, with the exception of King Low Heywood Thomas School. .
We invite all to visit the exhibit and reminisce about your own schooldays past. We are also interested in any material people might have that would help us tell this story better. The exhibit is open every Thursday through Saturday from 11 am to 4 pm. Suggested admission is $7, with a discount for members.
In keeping with the spirit of the exhibit, notable local educators will be honored at the Stamford Historical Society’s Annual Gala to be held at the Italian Center on April 16th, 2015. Among those to be lauded are Kris Bria, Head of Long Ridge School, Sue Cesare, former Head of KLHT, Dr. Pauline Rauh of the Stamford Board of Education and former school principal, and Historical Society Board Member Dr. Richard Harper. Contact the Historical Society at 203-329-1183 for more information. Visit the Society online at www.stamfordhistory.org.