New Canaan Country School, originally called the Community School, was founded in the spring of 1916. Guided, directed and administered by a group of parents, classes began on October 16, 1916 in the “Raymond Bungalow” located at 46 Seminary Street in New Canaan. Parents hired Miss Edith Dudley and Miss Effie Dunton from New York City’s Jacoby School as co-principals.
In 1919, the school’s parents began the process of incorporation and established the first Board of Trustees. The Board operated the school with a variety of committees, all comprised of parent volunteers. During the same year, parents raised $16,000 to purchase property at 63 Park Street in New Canaan, as the school was in much need of additional space.
Throughout the early ‘20s, the Community School continued to flourish and the need for additional space once again rose to the forefront of parent and educational concerns. In 1924, the Board of Trustees sold 63 Park Street and purchased “The Weisman House” across the street at 62 Park Street.
As the town grew, the school expanded, and parents were continually faced with the need for additional space. In 1931, despite the Depression, the Board voted to raise $100,000 to build a new school facility. A study was conducted, locations were evaluated and parents worked to raise funds during the worst economic time in American history.
In 1934, with over 100 students now ranging from New Canaan, Darien, Stamford, Norwalk, Ridgefield and Wilton, the need for additional space was more immediate and “Weed house” on the corner of Park and Seminary Streets was leased to supplement space at 62 Park.
Shortly thereafter, discussions emerged with Grace Episcopal Church in New York City to purchase property on Ponus Ridge, leased at the time by St. Luke’s School. Initial discussions included merging the two schools, but this did not come to pass. After a thorough evaluation and successful fundraising efforts, parents voted to sell the property at 62 Park and purchase “Grace House in the Fields” on the corner of Frogtown and Ponus Ridge and its 140 acres from Grace Church. “Grace House in the Fields,” built in 1899, now known as Country School’s main building, “Grace House,” had been operated by Grace Church as a summer retreat for parish families in need.
The Frogtown Fair began as a small community picnic in 1936 to celebrate the move to the much larger, pastoral campus on the corner of Frogtown Road and Ponus Ridge. In 1947, it was re-named Frogtown Fair and featured a marching band, midway games and a cookout.
From 1936-1938, the school was co-ed from Kindergarten to Grade 3. The boys’ school was administered by Mr. Irwin, while the girls’ school was run by Mrs. Macintosh, former head of the Community School.
In 1944, a house on Ponus Ridge across the street from the Gate House was purchased for the Beginners program, and in 1945, the Near House was joined to the Main Building (it is now the Cafeteria). A dining room, kitchen and new classrooms were established.
Mary Perrine is hired. Having studied acting with Lee Strasberg and dance with Martha Graham, Ms. Perrine enhanced the existing Eurythmics class into a "Rhythm and Creative Music Program" called Rhythms.
Through the medium of self-expression which Rhythms is - and of which the arts of music, drama, dancing, modelling and painting are further and specific projections - if through such a medium, a child can be taught to believe in himself, then surely he has been taught the most abiding lesson of all. For there lies the key to his belief in others, and his fullest chance for happiness and usefulness in the world in which he is to live.
These trails have been developed as part of a conservation education area. There are three trails each thing numbered posts spaced at fifty foot intervals. The Red Trail is the main one and is .4 miles long.
It is the most direct route to Elderberry Swamp where an elevated walkway permits easier access.
Excerpted from "Conservation Trails," a booklet prepared in 1970 by Robert G. Reidman, Head, Science Department and illustrated by Jane A. Caufield
Click on the photo to see photos of the booklet and an original trail map
An audio visual room was established on the 2nd floor of the Main Building (what is now known as Accounts Payable and the Tech Department in Grace House). Black and white reel to reel movies were shown on a large screen while in later years, video cameras, monitors and tape were used.
Members of the class of 2006 on their Expanded Studies Trip
The Expanded Studies program in which 9th Graders go on location for a hands-on, experiential learning experience originated in 1985 with a history course focusing on the Constitution and government and a trip to Washington, D. C. to attend Senate hearings and meet members of Congress. Since then, Expanded Studies courses have included a study of post-Katrina recovery and Cajun culture, culminating in a trip to New Orleans, as well as a variety of courses and trips to Machu Picchu, the Pacific Rim, Coral Reefs, National Parks and Civil Rights landmarks of the deep South.
This historical timeline is a select history of New Canaan Country School. Historical events were compiled from multiple sources including editions of The Bulletin as well as input from School Archivist Mark Macrides, Head Librarian Mary Ann Lansdale and student curriculum projects celebrating the school’s history. As with all history research, this timeline is a work in progress. Your comments and ideas on historic events and your archival mementos are welcome. Please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org with suggestions.