The Reverend and Mrs. Frank Bigelow founded The Rectory School in the rectory of Christ Episcopal Church, Pomfret, CT. The Bigelows established the School because their son, John, was not receiving the education necessary to prepare him for secondary school. John was joined in his studies by George Chandler Holt, a boarder from New York. By 1921, six students were enrolled.
Greystoke, a vacant building on the north side of Christ Church, was acquired to accommodate a growing number of boarding students.
Father Bigelow formalized the school and developed a structured program, which challenged junior high school students intellectually, guided them morally, inspired them artistically, and encouraged them athletically. The program also emphasized self-discipline and independent thought. Seventeen boys were now enrolled in the school.
In the spring, Greystoke burned to the ground. Fortunately, no one was injured, but the fire resulted in publicity about the school. John Bigelow later recalled a sharp increase in enrollment the following year. After the fire, the Bigelows rented Out of Bounds (now owned by the School) as a dormitory. In the fall, they acquired over 100 acres and the Grosvernor house, a large home across the road, with financial backing of a Christ Church parishioner. That house is now Main House, on Rectory's front circle, and the land is the site of the campus, which now encompasses 138 acres. In September, 1925, Rectory opened on its present site with 36 boarding students.
A dining hall was constructed by the old Putnam Trade School consisting of two floors of dormitories over the dining and kitchen areas.
Rectory was incorporated as a non-profit organization with a self-perpetuating Board of Trustees, thus ending the Rev. Frank and Mabel Bigelow's personal ownership of the School. An old barn was converted into a small gymnasium, sports fields were landscaped, and three tennis courts were built along with two cottages and several outbuildings.
John Bigelow (Mr. John) became Headmaster. Mr. John developed the one-to-one tutoring program, known today as Individualized Instruction Program (IIP), to serve children with dyslexia, pioneering the use of the Orton-Gillingham method of remedial training.
1940s - 1960s
Rectory's Individualized Instruction Program (IIP) offerings expanded to meet the growing academic needs of students, from remedial to gifted learners.
Secondary School Placement guidance was formalized to ensure the continued academic success of each Rectory graduate.
Sports teams and clubs became an integral part of the Rectory student's education.
Overall enrollment increased as Rectory grew more recognized as a highly personalized, academic experience for all types of students.
In 1990, Mr. Thomas F. Army became Headmaster. The warm, nurturing community was reaffirmed. The education was broadened to include new math and science curricula, foreign language, expanded programs in fine and performing arts, athletic participation, community service, and March Experiential Learning Program (MELP). Technology was updated. Long Range Capital Program commenced. The new science wing was added to the academic building.
Rectory was recognized as a “School of Excellence” by the U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon Schools Program
John Brittain Bigelow Academic Building was renovated, and the science facilities and Day Room, a gathering place for non-boarders, were added.
Construction of Hamilton North-South Dormitory was completed.
Renovation of the former Chapel/ Assembly Hall into the new Day Care facility was completed.
The Perkins addition to the Hettinger Library was completed.
The Main House was renovated, and construction of the P.Y. and Kinmay Tang Performing Arts Center and Auditorium were completed. Construction began on the new maintenance facility.
Construction was completed on the new Dining Hall and the maintenance facility.
Construction of the Collins Art Barn was completed.
Rectory's Elementary School, led by Director Maria Carpenter, began with a kindergarten class. Due to overwhelming success, they began planning to add a grade each year until it became K though 4.
For the first time in Rectory's history, female boarders were accepted. Fisher Cottage and Out of Bounds were remodeled to accommodate six girls each and apartments for the dorm parents.
We had a wait list for female boarders! Faraway, formerly a faculty residence, was remodeled to house six female boarders and two dorm parents.
The first group of fourth graders became fifth graders in the Middle School, marking the completion of K-9th grades at Rectory.
Renovation began on the lovely Deal House, home of the Alumni, Development, and Placement offices. A walkway meandering through the trees was installed to connect the building with the Main House.
Mr. Thomas F. Army retired June 1, after nineteen years as headmaster.
Mr. Frederick W. Williams became Rectory's fifth headmaster and was officially recognized at an all-school Installation Ceremony on October 14. It was the first such ceremony in the history of the School. Renovation was completed on Upper and Lower Dining for housing girl boarders. In the midst of uncertain economic times, The Rectory School had the largest number of boarding students in its history.
Rectory's enrollment increased beyond capacity, so Murphy House became a beautiful dorm for five boarders in grades 8 and 9. We began new traditions that caught the interest of the entire Rectory community: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service and the Recyclable Regatta. Equestrian was added to the list of athletic offerings in the fall.
We dedicated our new tennis courts, thanks to generous donors. The traditional Roman Day expanded to a feast and an ancient style show. The second annual Fall Fling golf tournament took place to raise money for MELP scholarships.
The first girls' lacrosse team began this year. Phase 1 of the Master Plan was approved and the ground broken for the new Admissions and Entrance for a dynamic first impression of an already beautiful campus. We voted and Rectory's mascot is the WOLF! The football team was undefeated for the third year in a row!
In February, the new Admissions Offices and Entrance opened and created a beautiful welcoming for visitors. The Deal House was renovated after a fire began during the ice storm in the winter of 2012.
In August, the addition of a new faculty apartment between the Dining and Memorial Dormitories was completed.
Renovations to Memorial Dormitory were completed for the beginning of the 2014-15 academic year.
Rectory added squash to the winter sports offerings; the new sport proved to be extremely popular with an overwhelmingly positive response from students.
With the help of a Million-Dollar Challenge by Peter Kellogg '57, Rectory achieved 100% parent participation to The Annual Fund.
Oscar Tang '53, and his son, Kevin '82, donated $2.5 million to establish The Tang Endowment Fund for Academic Excellence. Additionally, they pledged another $2.5 million as a 1:1 matching challenge, for a total infusion of $7.5 million towards endowment.
A new student-centered academic schedule was introduced and implemented in the middle school. The schedule features a 7-day rotation with 5 classes meeting each day. The new schedule also incorporates electives, skill blocks, academic enrichment, increased advisory time, a mid-morning break with a healthy snack, and dedicated Professional Learning time for teachers.
With the goal to increase the number female athletic offerings, the first girls' volleyball team was established as a new fall sport.
During the January meeting of the Board of Trustees, we broke ground on The Hale Elementary Wing and The Smith Learning Center. Construction began on the project in February with an anticipated 2017 opening.
The opening of the Hale Family YMCA in Putnam offered Rectory the opportunity to create a swim team. The inaugural team boasted 19 members (6 girls and 13 boys).
Rectory School opened its new academic addition with a ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony on Monday, January 23. Students, faculty, administrators, board members, alumni, and community members joined the celebration to open the new 10,000 square-foot academic building, housing the Hale Elementary Wing for grades K-3 and the Smith Learning Center, which includes seventeen tutoring rooms for Rectory's signature Individualized Instruction Program.