Drawing of Bridge Academy Public Library

Bridge Academy Public Library

44 Middle Road
Dresden, Maine 04342

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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.

Bridge Academy 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 School.

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 certain requirements.

Bridge Academy 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.

For anyone 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.

The basement 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 8, 1890.

This impressive 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 Commercial Geography.

Extra curricular 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.

"Many students 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.

 

 

Library Hours:  Tuesdays and Thursdays 2:00 to 7:00 pm, Saturdays 9:00 am to 1:00 pm
To contact the library, call 737-8810 during library hours, or email
BALibrarian@Bridge-Academy.lib.me.us