Suffield Academy Doors – #ThursdayDoors

Academy House

Last week, I took you on a tour of the Suffield Green and the doors that surround it. A few of those doors were on buildings on the campus of Suffield Academy, a private secondary school. In 1833, when this school was founded, it served private students and it also served as the school for the town of Suffield. My best friend attended this school in the mid-60s and told me that the buildings we’ve already seen were about the only buildings on campus 55 years ago.

Today, we’re looking at a few houses that are located at the north end of the campus. Some of these were owned by the school in the 60s and some have been purchased since as the campus has expanded. The school grew across the farmland behind the green, and the land associated with the houses on the north end. This may be related to an interesting characteristic of New England towns in the 19th century.

Colonial New England, and the other colonies, used a variety of taxes in order to fund the operation of their governments. The variety of goods and services that were taxed would fill a formidable list. Land was taxed, but only a few of the colonies taxed land based on its assessed value. In Suffield, in the 18th and 19th century, land was taxed by “frontage,” the length of land along the street on which the farm was located. This is the reason a lot of farms in Suffield are narrow and deep.

My friend reports that in the 60s, unmarried faculty members at the academy lived and dined with the boarding students. Some lived in the large buildings that served as dormitories and some lived in rooms in the houses on campus. Married faculty members often lived in the houses, acquired and maintained by the academy. Those faculty members, and their families, also dined with the boarding students. According to a relatively current faculty listing, many of today’s faculty members live on campus in dormitory halls and in the independent houses.


This continuing exploration of Suffield, CT is part of Norm Frampton’s weekly blogfest known as Thursday Doors. Each week, Norm invites door aficionados from around the world to share images of doors they have discovered in their travels. If you love doors, if you love exploring the world and especially if you have doors to share, you should head on up to Norm’s place. Once there, you can view his doors and follow links to doors by others.

50 comments

    1. I have to remind myself of the other things that came with those simpler times (like no indoor plumbing) and simply appreciate that these buildings have been well preserved over time. The red barns are just too beautiful to pass up. I’m glad you like them, too.

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  1. The red barns are fantastic, especially the last one. I just love barns! And the garage that makes you think of a barn ranks high too.

    These buildings and the campus are so meticulously maintained. What a lovely place to work and learn.
    🐾Ginger 🐾

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    1. It really is a beautiful campus. I love red barns (well, all barns) and these look so nice. When my friend went there, the students were assigned to the grounds crew. I’m not sure if that’s still a thing.

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  2. You explained loft doors on a previous post so this time I knew exactly what I was looking at! Oh, that Montgomery House. What a beautiful campus this is. It must have been a source of pride to have your children attend that school.

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  3. Tremaine Art Center has a lovely door. Catches my eye immediately. Your information about how “land was taxed by ‘frontage'” may explain many of the old farms I’ve seen around here. The properties seem awkward and peculiarly deep from the road. Always wondered why.

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    1. I read that very few states/colonies taxed land based on its total value. You know if there’s a way to game the system, some people are going to do it. I’m not sure if the art center door was added onto the infirmary, or if the building was just converted.

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    1. Making round structures is still hard. I can only imagine how hard it was in the 1800s. I do like the look of the new building. They seem to have gone beyond the basics, to make it blend in. I love the barns.

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  4. Thank you for the tour, Dan. I was very impressed by how the new buildings are in the style of the old. I think this shows a great deal of good planning or an extremely competent planning and zoning board. Thanks, again.

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  5. I agree, John. Even the more modern buildings, like the field house, look like they belong on the property. And, for most of them, you have to drive onto the campus to even see them. They’re hardly visible from the road. I like it when people pay attention to details like this.

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  6. Judging by the long narrow shape of farm lots on this side of the border I have a feeling that a taxation system based on frontage was common here as well.
    The red barn/garage shots are my sure-fire faves this week. Thanks for the tour Dan :-)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess it was common practice, Norm. Apparently, they figured if you had a big wide house, you’d need a lot of frontage. Sicne they also taxed most of the stuff farmers sold, I guess it worked our OK.

      I do love the barns!

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  7. I like these buildings, especially the mixing of different styles over the years. The headmaster’s residence is striking. I love the fan over the art center doors, and the columns on the academic building. Really nice doors post, Dan.

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  8. Hi Dan – what a gorgeous campus … and how lucky for the tutors to be part of the school and avail themselves of the facilities, which I guess they had. Makes sense to mix kids and teachers … but I love the buildings and that Arts Centre with its arch decorative door. It’s so interesting to learn how communities developed … ours in the 1800s was along the railway lines … then the overfill happened and a larger town developed. Water frontages and now you mention house frontages – I guess it was the easiest way … but interesting post – thanks for sharing … Hilary

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    1. I’m glad you enjoyed it Hilary. It is interesting to learn how things came to be. It’s odd, but not surprising that it was based on trying to lower taxes. The school is beautiful, and I’m glad the new buildings fit well with the historic ones.

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  9. Boy, there’s a lot to like here. Red buildings with white trim. Brick construction. Columned porches. Trees all around. It’s all very pastoral and attractive. If that bricked-up window in the Tremaine Art Center could be restored, it would really make it perfect! Another great doors post, Dan.

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