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NaugatuckPublic Schools

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History

Colonial & Early National PeriodStraitsville Schoolhouse, Naugatuck, ca. 1906

The first school in Naugatuck was built in 1731, 29 years after the first white settlers moved to the area. It was built in what was then a section of Waterbury called Judds Meadow. Judd's Meadow eventually became Salem Bridge and then Naugatuck. 
 
Over the next 200 years, five or six school districts were formed in various parts of Naugatuck, with each district controlling its own school.
 
Naugatuck finally consolidated all its schools under one district in 1920.
 
To learn more about early schooling in Naugatuck, check out these links: 

Salem Elementary School historic photograph of Salem Elementary

Occupying a prominent place on Meadow St, at the head of the Green, sits one of Naugatuck’s most iconic buildings. Named after “Salem Bridge” (an earlier name for Naugatuck) Salem School is the oldest operating school building in the borough. The 2 ½ story, Renaissance Revival-styled structure was built in 1893, one of three McKim, Mead and White buildings constructed in Naugatuck that year (The Whittemore Library & The Naugatuck National Bank were the other two). Salem was a gift of JH Whittemore and was integral in his vision for Naugatuck.
Replacing a simple white wooden structure that sat across the street (where the gazebo is today), the school originally held all pupils in the district, with the high school occupying the third floor. The high school was moved to Hillside upon its completion in 1905 and the middle school grades moved out in the 1950’s.The playground at Salem School c.1910
There is mention in the Naugatuck Historical Society archives that vandals once put a cow in the cupola on the roof!
A descendant of The Charter Oak was planted on the grounds of Salem School in the 1960's by the Naugatuck Exchange Club.

early 1900's students of Salem School. Including Harris Whittemore's daughter Helen.

 

Hop Brook School

On a trip to Europe in 1888, Harris Whittemore asked for Theodate Pope’s hand in marriage. She declined but they remained friends. Self-taught and one of the country's first female architects, Theodate would design her parents’ home, Hill-Stead, in Farmington and The Westover School in Middlebury.

In 1914 Harris Whittemore asked Theodate to design the new Union City School (later renamed Hop Brook) for the children of foreign laborers in the Union City section of Naugatuck. The school was unique with its separate kindergarten cottage, fireplaces and a playful “ABC” motif that was repeated throughout the building. Hop Brook welcomed its first class on September 6th, 1916.

ABC design on Hop Brook SchoolTheodate Pope

Hillside Intermediate School Old Hillside school postcard

On the winding brick of Hillside Avenue sits Hillside Intermediate School. Originally designed as the boroughs high school, Hillside was a gift of Mr. John H. Whittemore in 1905. Designed by the firm of McKim, Mead & White, the school is modeled after Greek Temples and is constructed of pink granite and pressed buff brick. In order to account for the sloping site, the architects designed the building so that each of its three floors has an entrance at ground level and each side with its own distinct appearance. This landed the school a spot on “Ripley’s Believe It or Not”.
Originally the building contained a gymnasium, indoor track, labs for chemistry and physics, and rooms for drawing and sewing. The interior was decorated with classical statuary and prints of world-renowned, buildings, paintings and writers. The interior was lost to fire in 1962.