Located at the south corner of Norfield and Weston Roads, is the site of the Jarvis Military Academy. Originally it was named the Weston Boarding School, founded in 1835 by Matthew Bulkley. It was taken over by his son-in-law, Andrew Jarvis and renamed the Jarvis Military Academy. It was, at one time, one of the top military schools in the country. Most of the students were from New York and other towns and the education was extremely demanding as well as marching and regular drills held throughout the day. Approximately 200 students attended the school which fell on hard times and closed in 1888. Most of the buildings were moved to other sites or burned down.
History of the Jarvis Military Academy
- Founded in 1835 as the Weston Boarding School, A Commercial and Military Institute for Boys, the school operated until 1888. Students attended the boarding school because of its fine reputation as a preparatory school and came from New York City and major cities in Connecticut.
- The school played a significant national role in the training and preparation of students for military careers. Teaching methodologies and other instructional techniques employed by the school may have advanced the development of military strategies, tactics of officer and troop preparedness. The Jarvis Military Academy, therefore, is probably Weston’s most important historic landmark with links to the formation of our nation’s military preparedness.
- The school became known as Jarvis Military Academy because its principal was General Andrew Sanford Jarvis, son-in-law of school founder Matthew Bulkley.
- The school was a preparatory school for young men planning a career in the military or business. Graduates went on to train as officers at West Point and Annapolis. An 1869 school catalog advertised “increased advantages to those desiring a mercantile education” and “opportunities unsurpassed to those desiring to enter any of our colleges, the Military Institute at West Point or the Naval Academy.”
- The Jarvis Military Academy attracted the personal interest and support of several Connecticut governors, who not only approved the provision of military equipment (drums, muskets), but also personally visited the school.
- Students were required to dress formally and obtained uniforms from Brooks Brothers. They studied business, English composition and the classics.
- The historic landmark at the corner of Weston and Norfield roads originally hosted more buildings. In March 1998, an archeological study was conducted at the request of the town by Ernest A. Wiegand, archeology professor at Norwalk Community College and field director for the Mount Lebanon, N.Y. Shaker Village. The original facilities on the site included dormitories, a chapel, arsenal, bowling alley, laundry, in addition to the main building, which housed the dining hall and kitchen.
- According to research conducted by the town historian in 1998 with the Connecticut Historical Society, Connecticut Historical Commission and discussions with Professor Weigand, the Jarvis Military Academy was unique among Connecticut institutions of secondary education during the 1800s because it was in session for 12 months of the year. During the early 19th century, the economy of Connecticut was primarily farming with some manufacturing emerging. Few schools went beyond primary grades. None were in session throughout the year. In those days, children were needed at home for chores during planting, growing and harvest seasons. Therefore, the students who attended Jarvis Academy came from well-to-do families intent on securing an education that would lead to careers in business or the military.