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Education

An overview of education in Ridgefield from 1721 to today.

NUGGET #60

Education: The earliest schooling took place in a private home. In 1721, the town meeting voted to spend “eight pounds for ye support of a school,” the first mention of schooling in the town records, but it wasn’t until 1723 that the voters approved a “Meeting House,” which would serve as a church, a school, and a town hall. The first teacher was believed to be the Rev. Thomas Hauley, the Harvard-educated minister of the Congregational Church. As Ridgefield began to develop outside the village and more people built houses in rural parts of town, school districts (q.v.) began to be created, such as at Limestone, Bennett’s Farm, and Ridgebury. In 1799, the First Society had 10 schoolhouses serving 433 children. Ridgebury had two more schoolhouses and about 75 children. By the mid-19th Century there was a peak of about 15 districts in all. After motor vehicles became available to provide bus service, many towns later opted for centralized school districts, but except for a brief period in the 1940s and 50s, when all schools were in the center of town, Ridgefield has favored neighborhood schools for its elementary (k-5) schools; in 2020, there are six elementary districts. For middle school (6-8), there are two districts, and only one district for high school. 75% of Ridgefielders 25 or older hold a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 37% in the state, 4% at least an associate’s degree.

More Historical Nuggets

First Pride Day, 1998

FIRST ‘PRIDE’ DAY: “A Celebration of Community: Straight, Gay and Lesbian“ took place in 1998, on the Community Center lawn. Just a year later, a Rainbow Flag was flown for the first time in the nation over a state capitol, Hartford, on March 21, 1999.

Hezekiah Scott (1789-1879)

Hezekiah Scott was a weaver and operated a distillery on the brook near his home on Barlow Mountain Road — a stream now called Kiah’s Brook.

Paving

The first road paving, part of a state experiment, was done on the eastern end of Branchville Road around 1912. Catoonah Street was paved in 1922.