The History of Bridge
Academy Public Library
Many thanks to
Doris Souviney for compiling the following history of Bridge
Academy for us.
At one time there
were 10 school districts [in Dresden,] each with its own one-room
building. Students, especially the boys, attended when they were
not needed on the farm.
It was not until
the latter part of the 1800's that some type of higher education
was available. By 1890 Bridge Academy was established, by private
endowment, providing the type of education that enabled young
adults to go out into the world in other than the labor field.
came into existence due to the generosity of Llewellyn Lithgow and
Samuel Bridge. Later, additional endowments from Edmund and
Frederick Bridge enhanced the potential for "A Free High School
for the children of Dresden". It served in that capacity for the
youth of Dresden, and other 'tuition' students from many areas
until 1966. There were over 430 students who earned their high
school diplomas between 1892 and 1966. As the high school
enrollment decreased, the Trustees voted to let the seventh and
eighth grades use a room from 1946 until 1983 when the town voted
to send all seventh and eighth grade students to Wiscasset High
In 1966 due to
requirements under new State laws regarding the fact that some tax
money had been involved, and which included added courses and more
space, which the B.A. income could not provide, the building could
no longer serve as a high school. The Trustees allowed the Town to
continue using the building as a Junior High.
In 1891 an act of
the Legislature was approved incorporating Bridge Academy for the
'promotion of education, literature and science'. Therefore in
1984, Trustees of Bridge Academy set up a Public Library to serve
the young people of the town and all other residents. Adult
educational courses have been offered. Donations are made to the
Kenyon Memorial Art Fund and to the Dresden Elementary School for
special programs that the taxpayers' money does not provide.
Scholarships are awarded to Dresden college students who meet
provides the finances for, and prepares the informational DRESDEN
COMMUNICATOR, which is mailed monthly to every resident of Dresden
and some local newspapers. This paper reports, free of charge,
information only on civic group meetings. The building is also
used as a meeting place for many civic groups such as The Planning
Board, Internet Group, The Conservation Commission, and the
Dresden Historical Society, also some special meetings such as the
Brownies, Scouts and others.
interested in the detailed, and at times, the emotionally
involved, issues before the actual construction of the building,
you may refer to Charles Edwin Allen's HISTORY of DRESDEN. The
site chosen was near the center of the Dresden Mills section of
the Town of Dresden and the architect from Boston was George A.
Clough. The builder, Roscoe M. Beedle was from Dresden.
included space for furnace, an exercise room and two rest rooms,
and at one time a bowling alley. The grounds provided a baseball
field, tennis and basketball courts. Dedicatory exercises were
held on December 1, 1890 and the school officially opened December
building was of a unique design including the roof's gables and
30-foot spire, very tall windows in the large main room with a
high ceiling of embossed tin. The main room was the 'home-room'
for up to 80 students. The other classrooms were a large
recitation room and chemistry lab on the north side, and on the
south side were a classroom and a spacious library also used as
the typing room. The staff included a principal and two teachers,
all of whom taught the many subjects using all the rooms described
above. The first principal was George C. Sheldon and his
assistants were "The Misses Maud Barker and Nellie Sheldon".
On May 16, 1891
the first graduation class held its exercises in the Methodist
Church, which is still in existence in Dresden Village. College
Preparatory, Lithgow Commercial, Scientific and General Courses
required many subjects: English, French, Latin, Plane and Solid
Geometry, Algebra, Trigonometry, Biology, Chemistry, Ancient
American and Medieval History, Typing, Shorthand, Spelling, Jr.
Business Training, Guidance, Commercial Law, Business Math and
activities varied from time to time but Prize Speaking Contests
and Play Productions were popular while Winter Carnivals added to
the other season's outdoor sports.
have successfully completed college" B.A.'s 1940 catalog
proudly proclaims. Teachers, nurses, school superintendents,
college professors, doctors, authors, men and women in business
world and several positions in the Military Service are or have
been some of Bridge Academy's students' occupations.