It is a great honor for my family and me to live on Suffield Academy’s campus in the Gay Manse. Few people will ever have the opportunity to inhabit a home built in 1742. The thought of a structure enduring for 271 years stretches the imagination of our fast-paced, disposable society. By the time Suffield Academy came to be (initially named the Connecticut Literary Institute) in 1833, the Gay Manse was almost 100 years old. In fact, the first classes that were held for our venerable institution took place in this home.
Suffield has since renovated the Gay Manse by replacing all 46 windows with custom made replicas, repairing the main structural beam of the home, putting supports in the attic to bring the house back in true, and rebuilding a significant portion of the chimney. We continued to save this historic home by replacing rotted siding and molding with matching cedar used in the home's original construction.
As the current resident (in a long line of legendary faculty members), having a front seat to this project was fascinating and educational. It also made me reflect on Suffield Academy as a whole and the current position of this special school. I feel that a renovation project was started at Suffield Academy with the hiring of Headmaster David Holmes ’60 and continues on in earnest today under the leadership of Charlie Cahn.
Over the last two decades, the Suffield campus has been transformed dramatically. We have invested in what makes us stronger in our physical plant and endowment and what makes us unique via the laptop initiative, the Leadership Program, and area studies curriculum. We have added and significantly renovated many buildings on campus, while keeping the student body to 415. This has dramatically improved the experience of the Suffield student.
There is a sense of pride that comes from honoring and protecting the past—like our work on the Gay Manse. But it is just as important to move the school forward with new ideas, innovative programs, and a state-of-the-art campus.
Major funding for buildings and endowment are exciting for the community and move the school forward, but it is your gift to the Annual Fund year after year that keeps Suffield strong. It is our “main structural beam.” Over the past several years, participation in the Annual Fund by alumni and parents has increased significantly and become tradition.
The Suffield story is still being told, and it is better than ever.