1950 – 1952
From 1950 through 1952, a group of 5 small cottages were built on a newly-purchased 1.2-acre plot of land in back of the school. The modest 6-room brick cottages were built for staff members. Each cottage measured approximately 1,100 square feet and included 2 bedrooms, 1 spare room, a full bath, living/dining area, fireplace, all-electric kitchen with a pantry and wall cabinets, full basement with 7-feet ceilings, steel-frame windows, and hot water oil-fired heating systems. Some of the cottages were rented by groups of female teachers; others were rented by staff families. Tenants of the first cottages rented in February 1951 were welcomed by Grounds Superintendent, Robert Taylor, who also lived in one of the cottages.
In 1951 the State Fire Marshall strongly advised the school that parking vehicles in the basement of the boys’ wing of Gallaudet Hall constituted a fire hazard. This necessitated construction of an alternative shelter for the school bus, station wagon, tractor, mowing equipment, jeep, and snowplow attachment. The garage was built at the north end of the main school during the summer of 1952. One section included a lavatory, workshop and four bays with overhead doors on a poured concrete foundation. The other section was comprised of 12 roofed carports without doors, arranged around a macadamized court. In 1974 the carport was walled in to house a spray booth for the Auto Body shop.
in Hartford, CT
April 18, 1953
In May 1946, when a name was being sought for the traffic circle in front of Bushnell Park in Hartford, representatives of the New England Gallaudet Association (NEGA) wrote to the Mayor of Hartford suggesting that it be named “Gallaudet Circle.” But the Superintendent of Hartford City Parks replied that the city had already honored Thomas H. Gallaudet in 1932 by naming the triangle of land at the junction of Farmington and Asylum Avenues “Gallaudet Square” – although it had never been marked. From this rejection, the idea of creating a memorial to ASD’s founders on Gallaudet Square – just steps away from the site of “Old Hartford” – was born. The proposal was presented at the 41st convention of NEGA in 1946 and received with enthusiasm. The Board agreed to raise money to erect a suitable monument.
To organize funding, NEGA sponsored a special committee called the Gallaudet Square Statue Fund Drive. Committee members included: Harry V. Jarvis (Chairman), Douglas Cameron (Secretary), Walter C. Rockwell (Treasurer), W.F. Newell Jr. (Asst. Treasurer), and Edward Vigeant. The drive for $20,000 (later reduced to $14,000) was initiated during a meeting at ASD on May 19, 1950. By April 1952, almost $9,000 had been donated to the fund. Letters to the community from four well-known Hartford businessmen (Graham H. Anthony, John R. Cook, Francis S. Murphy, and John R. Reitemeyer) yielded an additional $2,600 – including donations from Katherine Hepburn (Hollywood actress) and her father!
Unlike collections for previous ASD statues, this effort was not limited to the Deaf Community. All schools, organizations, businesses, clubs, and friends were encouraged to donate to the fund. Contributions came from all parts of the United States and Canada, and the goal was reached by February 1953: $14,284.30.
In 1950 NEGA commissioned Frances Laughlin Wadsworth of Granby CT – wife of Robert H. Wadsworth (a descendant of Daniel Wadsworth, founder of the Wadsworth Atheneum) to execute an original sculpture honoring the founders of the American School for the Deaf.
A native of Buffalo NY, Frances Wadsworth began her career at a young age. She studied with Gutzum Borglum and Gene Tefft at the Albright Art Gallery in Buffalo. She was widely known for her sculptures and pastels. In 1946 she completed a figure of Thomas Hooker in front of Hartford’s Old State House, and four outdoor sculptures at the Institute of Living. She also completed work on another Deaf girl, made from the original in Hartford, for the Missouri School for the Deaf in Fulton MO. Her projects proved such a success that she eagerly accepted the offer to design the Founders’ Memorial.
Frances Wadsworth was a member of the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts, the Hartford Society of Women Painters, the West Hartford Art League, and the Hartford Art League (president).
Frances Wadsworth began working on the statue in 1951. It is interesting to note that her first design was a clay model of three men and a little girl (her sketches are on file in ASD’s museum). When it was finished, she said to Supt. Boatner, “I don’t like this; it looks like a parade.” Instead, she chose two designs of a young girl that were strikingly symbolic in character. She fashioned small clay models in her Granby studio and submitted them to the NEGA Committee for selection and approval. They unanimously chose the model of the statue you see today.
The girl in the statue is meant to represent all Deaf children through Alice Cogswell. But, since no image of Alice existed other than a silhouette, the sculptress only had the shape of Alice’s nose to work with. For the chin and eyes she chose a 12 year-old girl from Granby Elementary School named Barbara Lapins as her model. Another girl served as the model for Alice’s body in a high-waisted dress, and the girl’s father modeled the hands.
The large bronze statue is symbolic in many ways. It shows a young girl being lifted by two large hands. But it is the hands that are the predominant feature, the ten fingers of which symbolize the ten original benefactors of the school. The hands are unfolding to form the beginning of the manual sign for “Light” – the light of learning. At the girl’s feet lies a partially covered book and quill pen to connote the learning once closed to the Deaf. But in her left hand she holds an open book, representing the opening of the door to education.
The bronze casting for the statue was done by the Sculpture House in New York City. It measures 8 ft.-1 in. high x 3 ft. wide x 2 ft.-1 in. deep.
There are three granite bases, built by the McGovern Granite Company in Hartford:
◊ Base 1 (bottom): 7 ft.-6 in. wide x 7 ft.-2 in. long x 10 in. high. Sides are rock face.
◊ Base 2 (middle): 5 ft.-6 in. wide x 5 ft.-2 in. long x 7 in. high. Sides are rock face.
◊ Base 3 (top): 4 ft.-4 in. wide x 4 ft. long x 2 ft. high. All rock face except top and bottom beds. One fine axed panel 2 ft.-6 in. long x 1 ft.-6 in. high for the purpose of inscription to be cut on the face. The wording inscribed on this panel is as follows:
Commemorating the Founders of the
AMERICAN SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF
America’s Pioneer Institution for the Handicapped
at Hartford, April 15, 1817
THOMAS HOPKINS GALLAUDET
MASON FITCH COGSWELL
Dedicated by the
New England Gallaudet Association of the Deaf
To Express the Gratitude of the
Deaf of the Nation
The Ten Benefactors
The statue of Alice Cogswell stands inside the two huge hands, ten fingers symbolizing the wealthy ten benefactors whose supported the first School for the Deaf. The hands were a form the beginning of the manual sign for “light.”
Inscribed on a bronze plaque on the back of Base 3 are the names of the 61 original corporators of the school. The sculptor’s name is on the bottom right edge of the statue’s back, and the name of the foundry (Bedi-Rassy Art Foundry, NYC) is along the proper right.
The dedication of the Founders’ Memorial took place at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 18, 1953 before more than 700 guests – easily overflowing the 600 benches that spread over the square onto Asylum Avenue which had been roped off for the occasion. Among the attendees were four young descendants of Laurent Clerc and Thomas Gallaudet: Katherine Beers Holt, Helen Pennock Holt, Jonathan Bowman Scoville, and Denison Gallaudet II.
After the Governor’s Foot Guard Band performed “The Star Spangled Banner,” speeches were delivered over a public address system from a platform draped in bunting and interpreted by Ethel M. Giett and Gordon W. Clarke. The speakers were:
◊ The Superintendent of ASD and Master of Ceremonies
◊ The Rev. Gurdon T. Scoville, Great grandson of Thomas Gallaudet
◊ Harry V. Jarvis, Chairman of the Statue Committee
◊ Douglass B. Wright, ASD Board (speaking for Prof. Henry A. Perkins)
◊ Louis H. Snyder, NEGA President
◊ Hon. Joseph V. Cronin, Mayor of Hartford
◊ Hon. Edward N. Allen, Member of Congress from Connecticut
◊ Thomas J. Dodd, U.S. Representative
◊ Elizabeth L. Knox, City Councilwoman
A letter from U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower was read in which he commended the New England Gallaudet Association for sponsoring the memorial. He praised NEGA for “this tribute to the unselfish and courageous men who first undertook to make available to the deaf the richness and solace of learning.”
Following the presentations, Frances L. Wadsworth was introduced to the crowd and received bouquets from Dr. Boatner and NEGA – and much applause. She was thanked for her many helpful suggestions in the development of the design and, in turn, she thanked the group for the privilege of executing the memorial.
It was raining slightly when the unveiling took place. Murilla Phelon, an 11 year-old student at ASD (dressed in early 19th c. costume) was selected to pull the cord on the veil; she was assisted by the four young descendants listed above. After the veil dropped, it was reported that the ceremonies “ground to a complete halt as all eyes centered on the bronze figure in all its poignant beauty.”
The ceremonies were broadcast over both Hartford TV stations, and all local papers provided excellent coverage. On Saturday evening, NEGA hosted a celebration dinner at ASD for 150 people to wind up the campaign, with Committee members and descendants as guests.
December; outdoor lighting was added for nighttime illumination.
The statue was cleaned and waxed by ASD volunteers.
Rudder Building Service Corp. provided the first professional cleaning, which was overseen by Mrs. Wadsworth.
Statue was cleaned, waxed, and buffed by Williamstown Art Conservation Center.
Outdoor lighting was replaced.
Boatner Pre-School Building
The first completely self-contained education facility designed exclusively for pre-school deaf children was the Boatner Pre-School Building, named after ASD’s 8th and longest-serving headmaster, Dr. Boatner. It was designed to give pre-school deaf children training to help bridge the gap in language, speech, and educational readiness. All furnishings in the 3-level 32,000 square feet building were scaled for children 3-6 years of age. It had 51 beds for boarding students, but also accommodated day students. In addition, four classrooms and living quarters for supervisory staff were included. A $200,000 renovation in 1969 added 20 more beds, new furniture, and two new classrooms. The building was sold in 2014.
Walter G. Durian Vocational Building
This building was funded and planned together with the Rockwell Gymnasium; both buildings (in photo on left – Rockwell on left; Durian Vocational on right) were dedicated and opened in December 1957. Named after Walter Durian, teacher and founder of ASD’s school paper, the new 35,000 square feet vocational building brought all vocational shops and classrooms together under one roof. For girls this included office practice and typing, as well as cooking, sewing, arts, and crafts. For boys there was ample space for their shops: printing, machining, woodworking, and mechanical drawing. Also included was a supervisor’s office and a teachers’ lounge. In 2011 the building was re-designed to accommodate office space.
Walter C. Rockwell Gymnasium-Auditorium
In 1955 the General Assembly authorized the sale of 45 of ASD’s 94 acres of land; cash from the sale would fund the construction of two new buildings on campus. Groundbreaking (above) was in March 1956. The new combination gymnasium-auditorium was named after Walter Rockwell, ASD alumni, teacher, and coach from 1916-1957. It adjoined the new Durian Vocational Building right next to it, also funded by the same sale. The auditorium contained seating for more than 600 people, a full-sized stage, and two dressing rooms. The gymnasium included a full-sized basketball court. In 1995 the building was reconfigured for office space, assemblies, and sign language classes, and re-named The Rockwell Center.
Frank Kusiak Wrestling Gym
In 1958 the school decided to add an annex to the Brewster Gym Expansion (second “peak”) with special emphasis on specifically equipped exercise areas for students with polio and cerebral palsy, which were common at the time. It also included a large wrestling room, so the building was often referred to among the students as the “wrestling gym.” The 50 feet x 100 feet addition was originally named the James H. Brewster, Jr. Gym Annex, but the name was later changed as a memorial to Frank Kusiak, a former student who left ASD in 1912 to support his family’s farm. He remained closed to ASD and, during the fund drive, visited the school and presented his life savings ($9,715) to the school in support of this facility.
John Richard Cook Lodge
In 1963 permits were secured to build a guest house and general purpose lodge combination to replace the Log Cabin which had recently been torn down. Cook Lodge was situated on the same spot as the Log Cabin, and was used in the same way. The 2070 square feet structure had a large livingroom space with a fireplace so it could be used for winter gatherings, such as skating when the pond was frozen. There were 4 bedrooms for guests, 2 bathrooms, and a full kitchen. The new lodge was named after John Richard Cook who was a Board member, director, and president from 1927 through 1964. The Lodge was one of numerous building projects during Dr. Boatner’s term.
Mason Fitch Cogswell Building
ASD’s new Lower School building was dedicated and named after Mason Fitch Cogswell in 1964. In 1961, the size of classes had become too oversized for efficient teaching, so ASD requested and received $750,000 in funding from the state and hired architects to design a school specifically for primary-intermediate classes (ages 6-12). The architects took advantage of the setting overlooking the woods and pond and used wide expanses of glass, specially in the dining area. The new 54,000 square feet school building included 25 classrooms, 4 staff offices, dormitory facilities for 60 boys and 60 girls, a dining hall, kitchen, library, and an unfinished basement for use as an indoor play area.
Ferrari & Muriel Alvord Ward Memorial Gym
Because the two existing gyms on campus had become vastly inadequate, a subscription drive was begun for over half a million dollars to build a full-sized gymnasium and swimming pool on campus in time for the school’s 150th anniversary. This would be the first full-sized gym in the history of the school. And, it would be the first swimming pool in any school in West Hartford. The 18,000 square feet gym was named after Muriel and Ferrari Ward – Board members who also bequeathed the Isola Bella Island property to the school. The facility included a new regulation-resized basketball court with seating for 540 spectators, lockers, showers and an Olympic-length swimming pool with seating for 190 spectators.
Paul M. Butterworth Infirmary
The Butterworth Building was originally designed and constructed as an infirmary, separate from the main school building. It was named after Paul M. Butterworth, an ASD Board member and Vice President for 20 years. The infirmary included two nurse’s apartments, separate wards for boys and girls each with isolation rooms, and adjustable hospital beds for up to 22 patients. A large clinic was located in the center, with a dental room and X-ray room next to it. The facility was considered state-of-the art for its size, with call buttons and two-way communications devices. In 2002 the building was re-designed as a residential hall for middle school students, and it was re-named Butterworth Residence Hall.
Graham H. Anthony Vocational Rehabilitation Center
The new rehabilitation center was annexed to the east end of the Walter G. Durian Vocational Building in 1968. The new addition was named after Graham Anthony who was a board member and officer; he was also instrumental in working with Dr. Boatner to steer legislation towards Captioned Films for the Deaf as a federal agency. the rehab center offered a variety of retraining, rehabilitation, and evaluation services and was a benefit to deaf adults as well as pupils. Besides offices and consultation rooms, it included projection rooms, two-way mirror observation arrangements, closed-circuit television studio, and overhead filmstrip and movie projectors. It also provided space for additional shop classes.
Guy B. Holt Residence Hall
Situated north of the main building, this dormitory for older boys was built in 1970 and named after Guy B. Holt, past president of the Board. He was the great, great grandson of Laurent Clerc. At a cost of $500,000, this dorm contained 22 double rooms, 2 counselor apartments for counselors, a laundry, and spacious recreation and lounge in the basement.
Laurent Clerc Residential Hall
The high school girls’ dormitory, built in 1974, is an exact mirror image of the Holt Residence. It accommodated 44 girls, with 2 apartments for counselors, and included the same amenities at Holt Residential Hall. The addition of Clerc Hall provided a nice balance to the entrance of the main building, Gallaudet Hall.
The Fifth School – Gallaudet-Clerc Education Center
on fourth campus
(same site in West Hartford, CT)
The American School for the Deaf
2013 – Current
By the late 20th century, Gallaudet Hall had become outdated, unsafe, too costly to maintain, and it no longer fit the needs of the school. After years of trying to preserve the school through renovation, the decision was made to replace Gallaudet Hall with a smaller and more modern facility. Groundbreaking took place in 2012, and the first classes were welcomed to Gallaudet-Clerc Education Center (GCEC) in the Fall of 2013. At a cost of $20 million, the new 60,000 square feet school was designed with a 3-story glass atrium, larger hallways, natural light, wider corners, and a color-coded environment – all careful decisions to accommodate use of sign language. This glass display cabinet and woodwork were preserved from Gallaudet Hall.
Transitioning from Old Gallaudet to
Gallaudet Clerc Education Center (GCEC)
on fourth campus
The American School for the Deaf