Old Bacon Academy
The Second Oldest Continuously Operating Public High School in Connecticut
The iconic large yellow building in the center of Colchester, Bacon Academy, was built in 1801 with funds provided by the estate of Colchester resident, Pierpont Bacon. Bacon Academy became known as an exceptional school drawing noted students from across the country and beyond. In 1842, Bacon Academy began to educate women on the third floor and the grammar school children on the lower floors. Still in the original building in 1954, the Academy’s enrollment was 119 students.
The by laws of Bacon Academy, adopted in 1803, specify, “Negroes and persons of color shall be provided for in a separate building to be provided by the committee.” This unique school attracted students from beyond the borders of the town of Colchester. For many years, “persons of color” from all over the country came to Colchester to get a quality education. This special school operated independently for 30 years; eventually integrating it’s students with those at Bacon Academy.
Noted graduates from Bacon Academy include Steven Austin, the school’s first graduate, who with Sam Houston, were considered founders of an independent Texas; William Buckingham and Morgan Bulkeley, governors of Connecticut; Lyman Trumbull, governor of Illinois and friend of Abraham Lincoln; Morrison Waite, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court; Eliphalet Bulkeley, first president of Aetna Life Insurance Company; and Edwin B. Cragin, eminent surgeon, who financed the building of the Cragin Memorial Library.
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The Colchester Historical Society is proud to announce the successful completion of StEPS-CT, or Standards and Excellence Program for History Organizations (StEPs).
The Colchester Historical Society was one of 23 small cultural and heritage organizations which recently completed this intensive 2-year program. CHS received support and training via curriculum-based workshops; coaching from a dedicated mentor; and access to a Connecticut Humanities grant fund earmarked for initiatives related to achieving StEPs-CT program standards.
Over the course of the program, the Colchester Historical Society achieved bronze and silver certificates in six areas of museum practice. Through continued work on a self-study basis, CHS plans to continue to strive for gold certification in all StEPS Units. “This is just the beginning,” said CHS Co-President Gigi Liverant, “we are so grateful for StEPS-CT for all that we’ve learned, and we plan to continue developing procedures and policies that establish Colchester Historical Society as the premier steward of Colchester’s history and heritage.”
“Our experience with StEPS-CT has been invaluable,” Angela George, Co-President of CHS added. “From improved signage that has increased visitation to the museum, to implementing current policies that guide our volunteers through daily operations, StEPS-CT has improved our organization. We can now provide better programs to our community, and we are now better able to tell our audiences our local histories and preserve our heritage through our unique collections and images.”
StEPs-CT is a program of Connecticut Humanities and the Connecticut League of History Organizations, in partnership with Connecticut Historical Society, based on a curriculum of best practices developed by the American Association for State and Local History.
Connecticut’s program was the first to integrate the national StEPs curriculum and is viewed as a model for similar programs across the country, according to Scott Wands, manager of grants and programs at Connecticut Humanities.
Connecticut Humanities, a nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, provides opportunities to explore the history, literature and the vibrant culture that make our state, cities and towns attractive places to live and work. Learn more by visiting www.cthumanities.org.
The Connecticut League of History Organizations (CLHO) builds connections among those who preserve and share the stories and objects of our past. Learn more by visiting www.clho.org.