Way Back When... 1845
Published 12:00 am, Friday, February 24, 2017
The earliest schools in Westport were run by the Congregational Church Society. In 1845 the town of Westport assumed full responsibility for the public primary education system for all schools through the eighth grade. This ended the church’s dominance of the schools which began in 1703.
The earliest private high school in Westport opened in 1837, when Ebenezer Bank Adams purchased a one- room schoolhouse to open Adams Academy. Up until that time, no other school went beyond the eighth grade. Adams had to go to Wilton Academy to prepare for college.
After he graduated from Yale, he started his school with only six students, but by the end of the term in 1837 he had 28. Each pupil paid between $4 and $6 a quarter, plus 75 cents in the winter to cover rent, sweeping, firewood, etc. Adams supplied the books, slates and pencils for writing.
He held his students to high standards, and of the 637 students he educated in 30 years, all of them attended college.
In the early 1990s the Adams Academy on Morningside Drive North was restored and made a stop on the historic Jennings Trail, a self-guided tour of historic landmarks in Westport. Through March 25, the Westport Historical Society is showcasing the history of Westport’s schools curated by local historian Bob Weingarten. There will be guided tours of Adams Academy.
By Margaret Mazer, for the Westport Historical Society. For information, visit westporthistory.org. Mazer can be reached at 203-571-8704.