Bonus Question: What are the present-day name and location of the Connecticut State TRade School (Putnam Trade School)?
Named the Refectory Building by the Bigelows, the building now is referred to as the Dining Hall Dormitory. An upper gymnasium, a dining hall and kitchen, and a Kindergarten room previously occupied the space where Rectory’s Student Center, the Wolf Den, now is located.
In Rectory’s earliest years (mid-1920s), co-founders Frank and Mabel Bigelow purposed an existing building on this footprint as an “upper gymnasium.” A few years later, in 1929, anticipating that the project would be a “remodel,” they decided to convert the building into a new dining hall and kitchen with dormitories on the upper floors. Eventually, the project turned into erecting an almost entirely new building. Named the Refectory Building, it was dedicated in March 1930.
By 2004, after the completion in 2002 of a modern, glass-enclosed dining hall, plans were underway to convert the Refectory Building/dining hall into a Kindergarten room; the elementary students moved in in 2005. The kitchen, at the time still complete with hanging pots and pans, was cleared out to be utilized as a storage closet for the Elementary School. Designed by Director of the Elementary School Maria Carpenter, it became hard to imagine the bright and colorful elementary school classroom as the old dining hall.
In 2017, the Elementary School moved to the lower floor of the newly-constructed Green Hall, which afforded the opportunity of a new life for the first floor of the Dining Hall Building. Enter the idea of a Student Center. During Fall Family Weekend 2017, this space reopened as the Wolf Den having been converted into a 1950s diner complete with snack counter, comfy chairs, and games. Modern conveniences include a flat-screen TV and a new sound system.
Bonus Answer: At the Connecticut State Trade School located in Putnam, CT, (also known as the Putnam Trade School), students learned the trades of masonry, carpentry, and electrical work. Under the direction of teacher Mr. Harvard H. Ellis, the students took on the ambitious project of constructing Rectory’s Refectory Building, an “educational project” within an education project! Today the school, now named Harvard H. Ellis Technical High School, exists in nearby Danielson, CT. Over 600 students from 20 towns are enrolled in grades 9-12.
Image: Dining Hall Building, Rectory Archives.
- Bell Tower Bulletin