Historian visits Westover to see firsthand an example of Theodate Pope Riddle's architecture.
Lifetime Alumnae Governor Maria Randall Allen '42 and current Archivist and former Trustee Muffie Clement Green '65 are the driving forces behind the archives.
Believing that among other items, photographs, correspondence, uniforms, class rings, yearbooks, Lantern magazines, glee club recordings and The Wick issues provide an important glimpse into a time past at Westover, they keep organized the collection of materials and continue to add donated items and to properly preserve items unearthed from various locations on campus.
The School's Archives will gladly accept memorabilia from your years spent at Westover. Items are well-preserved in our growing collection, which is located on the third floor of Hillard House. Photographs, event programs, and other items that reflect your days at Westover are always appreciated.
If possible, please indicate the school year from which the memorabilia dates.
If you are donating photographs, please also try to identify all individuals who appear in each photograph.
Materials being donated to the Archives should be sent to:
Archivist Muffie Green
PO Box 847
Middlebury, CT 06762
Biography About Westover's Architect Theodate Pope Riddle
Dearest of Geniuses, by Sandra L. Katz
Art and architecture lovers will want to explore this first definitive biography of one of America's first successful female architects. In addition to designing schools and private homes in Connecticut and New York, Theodate designed and supervised the reconstruction of President Theodore Roosevelt's Birthplace in New York City. According to writer and critic Brendan Gill, Theodate Pope Riddle was one of the ten most distinguished American women of the 20th century. Her friend, famed psychologist Carl Jung, saw her as an "intuitive" woman who trusted her instincts, ignored raised eyebrows, and courageously forged ahead despite the restrictions of her day.
Theodate's Architectual Accomplishments
Smith conducted her extensive research relying on Hill-Stead's archives and other primary source material. She is a specialist in illuminated manuscripts, Medieval art and 19th and 20th century architecture.
The Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, CT
While Westover School was being constructed on the Middlebury Green a century ago, the School's Founder and First Headmistress, Mary Hillard, visited the building site one moonlit night with her good friend Theodate Pope Riddle, who was the architect for the new School. As they gazed at the sheer size of the project, Mary grew momentarily alarmed at the daunting endeavor she had undertaken. At seeing Mary's unease, Theodate told her good friend, "Be still and let your spirit fill the buildings."
Theodate's own spirit still fills the Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington, CT, more than 100 years after she designed it as a country estate for her parents - her first of a number of major architectural achievements.
Hill-Stead has been a hub of activity ever since the Pope family first occupied their newly built country estate. Here, from 1901 to 1946, in succession, Alfred and Ada Pope and their daughter Theodate, with her career-diplomat husband John Wallace Riddle, entertained many illustrious individuals - authors, artists, poets, academics and presidents. The Popes and Riddles also extended their hospitality to town folk and employed dozens of workers, among them Earnest Bohlen, butler to the family for nearly 60 years.
Today, Hill-Stead is a 152-acre, 10-building museum and a National Historic Landmark. For more information about this museum and its historical and cultural offerings, please visit the Hill-Stead Museum's website.
- The Hillard Years: 1909-1932
- The Dillingham Years: 1932-1964
- The Iglehart Years: 1964-1966
- The Alexander Years: 1967-1971
- The Molder Years: 1972-1997
- The Pollina Years: 1997-2015
"The School Estate consists of homestead, meadow and woodland. In the general character of the building the endeavor has been to combine appropriateness with beauty, so that the charm and dignity of the academic and domestic atmosphere shall be an unconscious but elevating influence endearing the place to all coming under its associations." - From Westover's first catalogue
"Be quiet and let your spirit fill the buildings." - Theodate Pope Riddle to Mary Robbins Hillard
Mary Robbins Hillard was the daughter of a clergyman, teacher for six years and Assistant Headmistress of the Collegiate School, and Headmistress when it became St. Margaret's. While she was Headmistress, she decided to plan a new school west and over the hill from Waterbury, thus escaping the confinements of the city. In the words of one of her sisters, "She wanted to manage young people and set them on the right paths, impressing her girls with a sense of the real values of life." Crossways was used by the students to learn how to prepare a meal.
Plays ranged from those written by students themselves to classics such as "She Stoops To Conquer" by Goldsmith and Sheridan's "The Rivals", Edna St. Vincent Millay's "Aria Da Capo", and adaptations from Dickens and Lewis Carroll. Students were also priviliged to hear many distinguished musicians and lecturers on such subjects as balloons, literature, and the Russian Revolution, just starting. The Nativity Play was an annual tradition. Sports have always been an important part of the day at Westover. The students at this time were involved in field hockey, ice hockey, basketball, tennis, and skiing. There was also a tobogganing ramp for snowy winters. The team sports were played between the West, Over, and Senior teams, as there were no other schools close enough to play against at that time.
"When the war was declared the girls began doing surgical dressings and working for the Red Cross ... They subscribed to war stamps and bonds; there were gassless Sundays...and candyless Sunday dinners ... In 1918 Westover was asked to join a Red Cross parade in Waterbury."
"It [the parade] went very well, and the remarks from the gutters were great. 'Look at them march- and they're all girls!' 'Not a man to keep them straight!' "'They must have regular training out there!' 'Look at the way they stand up!'" - excerpt from the diary of C. Rachel Trowbridge, Class of 1918
The curriculum consisted of Mathematics, English, Latin, Science, French, Italian, Music (piano, violin, and singing), Drawing, and History. History of Art and of Architecture were soon added, as was Psychology. Later Italian was dropped and German had an intermittent career.
"Miss Hillard made life romantic and exciting, and ... Miss Dillingham's loyalty and justice made it secure."
"...Westover lived much within itself for many years. The dates looked forward to were School dates, dates for Chapel, picnics, walks; the figures to be admired are school figures, heroic Seniors, captains of teams, Heads of Glee. Every Saturday night there was a German or a play. School games were desperate and serious."
Under Miss D., as Westover's second Headmistress, Louise Bulkley Dillingham, was known, there was no longer a "Black Monday" when the marks were read. Miss D. read only the Honor Roll of A and B girls. New clubs were formed: the Dramatic Club, Le Circle Francais, the German and Art Clubs. Her interpretation for each girl having an extracurricular activity was very liberal.
In 1946 the Faculty-Student Council was initiated, based on the traditional Honor System, and giving both students and teachers a broader hand in determining School policies. The study of Science was growing; Philosophy was resumed. Language clubs played games, gave plays, had movies in the languages of their clubs ... An Entertainment Committee took over the planning of lectures and concerts.
World War II: the news of Pearl Harbor reached Westover at the end of a Sunday Long Quiet Hour. During the war years, students took First Aid courses and raised money for War Relief agencies through several minimum meals a week. Gas rationing often prevented the much looked forward to Monday trips into Waterbury. It was at this time that the Student Waitress program began.
Red Hall Rule Review-The Wick, June 1950
Everyone has a chance to criticize and question school rules in the annual Red Hall meetings. Changes are often made according to suggestions. When the rules are left unchanged, that is because they have proved to be for the general welfare of the School.
Each student should, therefore, uphold these rules, which are carried through the honor system. While the students must work to carry out the honor system, the honor system in its turn strengthens the integrity of the student. It is a challenge well worth meeting.
For the first time in the School's history, an on-campus house was built for the Head. Lee House, designed by a local architect, Harry Wynn, was named in honor of Elliott H. Lee, President of the Board of Trustees from 1957 until 1966.
The original Chapel organ was replaced by a new three manual pipe organ, the gift of Marion Tully Dimick '21, Elisa Fanoni Renzulli '32, and the Classes of 1915, 1925, 1935, 1940, 1945, 1955, and 1960. It was dedicated in 1967.
"Academically there is a restlessness in evidence which seems to be seeking constructive results. The traditional five times a week repetition of a daily schedule of recitations in courses is no longer appropriate. Individualized work is increasingly being introduced, . . .When they do not meet, students are working individually or in small group ... More students are coming to realize what the better ones have already known. An education is poorly achieved if it is a passive process of responding to tasks set by teachers. More students and their teachers now know that an education is best achieved through a consciously active individualized pursuit." - John W. Alexander
"As a result of many months of study, the Board of Trustees, at its meeting on May 9, 1970, unanimously confirmed its intention to keep Westover at its present location as an institution with a special commitment to the education of girls." - Dorrance Sexton, President of the Board of Trustees 1966-1972 from the Westover School Alumnae Magazine, Fall 1971
Westover's day uniform dress was abolished. The new policy went into effect after spring vacation. Students may wear their own clothes as long as they are neat and tidy, and are expected to wear yellow tunics to gym and white uniforms to dinner.
Hiking and camping were offered this spring as part of the physical education program under the leadership of Mrs. Virginia Hart of Woodbury. Mrs. Hart is the chairman of the Flanders Nature Center "In-School Program" and is also on the Board of Directors of this local nature center.
Joseph and Elizabeth Molder came to Westover in September 1970 when Joe was appointed Assistant Headmaster to John W. Alexander. In 1971, he was named acting Head of School and on January 26, 1972, he was formally appointed Headmaster.
"When the first ballot was taken the vote was unanimous in favor or Mr. Molder. There was not a single doubt that he was 'our man.' He had been measured against the best of his peers and was considered to be in all respects the very person to lead Westover into a bright and shining future ... He generates a positive force, has a clear, objective mind and a quiet strength obvious to all committee members." - Nancy May Field '35, a Trustee, writing in the March 1972 Wick.When Joseph Molder became Headmaster, Westover's endowment was $750,000. He helped to guide the School through several major capital campaigns that resulted in increased financial aid available for students, enhanced faculty salaries, the construction of the Adams Library and Whittaker Science Center in 1984 and tremendous growth in the School's endowment.
Throughout his career at Westover, Joseph Molder was always open to exploring new educational programs that might provide students with greater opportunities to learn in news ways.
The Jordan Exchange Program was established in 1987 with the Ahliyyah School for Girls in Amman, Jordan, after Zein Al Hussein '86, the daughter of Jordan's late King Hussein I, attended Westover.
The Mandeville Daughters of Teachers Scholarship Program was established in 1989 through a gift from Hubert T. Mandeville (P' 69) to help daughters of teachers attend Westover.
The Manhattan School of Music/Westover Scholarship Program was established in 1990 to allow Westover students with a serious interest in music to attend a collaborative program with the Manhattan School of Music.
The Women in Science and Engineering (W.I.S.E.) is a collaborative program established in 1992 with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) that encourages Westover students to pursue careers in science and engineering.
The Australian Exchange Program was established in 1996 with All Saints' College in Bathurst, New South Wales, as a post-graduate year-long exchange program. (In 2001 a second exchange program was added with St. Mary's Anglican Girls School in Perth, Western Australia.)
The South African Exchange Program was established in 1997 with St. Cyprian's School in Cape Town, South Africa, initiated by Sonja Osborn, Westover's Art History teacher and a native of South Africa who is alumna of St. Cyprian's.
"The job of an educator or Headmaster is ... to combine idealism with the practical, to be both a visionary and a taker-down of walls so that one might provide every youth the opportunity of seeing as far as his or her heart has the courage and the will to see." - Joseph Molder, excerpts from May 1989 Alumnae Weekend Address.
Ann S. Pollina came to Westover in 1972 as a Mathematics teacher. In addition to serving as Head of the Math Department, she served as Director of Studies from 1986-1989 and was Dean of Faculty from 1990 to 1997. Working with then Headmaster Joseph Molder, Ann was instrumental in the creation of the Women in Science and Engineering program at Westover in 1992, serving as the program's first director. When Joe announced his plans to retire, Ann was the unanimous choice of a search committee to succeed him.
"Ann, all of us have spent much time doing our homework and planning. It was clear from the outset that you were the perfect person to to lead Westover into the millennium and beyond." - Anita Packard Montgomery, President of Westover's Board of Trustees, during Ann Pollina's Installation as the Sixth Head of Westover in October 1997.
Working with Westover's Board of Trustees and its Strategic Plan developed in 1999, Ann has helped guide Westover as it has embarked on an ambitious effort to upgrade its facilities for athletics and the performing arts. As a result, the School dedicated a new Fuller Athletic Center in October 2001. The School is now exploring oppportunites to upgrade its facilities for its theatre and music programs.
Under Ann's leadership, the School also has made strides to increase faculty salary and compensation through endowed funds provided by foundations, alumnae and parents. At the same time, the School has attracted an increasingly gifted student body that has made us even more competitive with our peer schools.
Building on the School's past successes, Ann Pollina has encouraged Westover to provide additional educational programs that offer students with a wider range of experiences. They include:
School of Dance Connecticut and Westover established a collaborative program in 1999, allowing Westover students with a serious interest in dance to be selected to attend Saturday morning pre-professional dance classes in Hartford.
The England Exchange Program was established in 2002 with the Truro High School for Girls in Cornwall, England, to allow four students from each school to participate in a one-month exchange.
"This world needs strong, able and well-trained women in every field of endeavor. Because you have learned in an academic atmosphere where your ideas are respected, you will believe your ideas deserve respect, and you will respect the ideas of others. Because you have lived in a close, sharing community, you will be able to collaborate with your colleagues, both male and female. Because you are challenged every day at this school, you will ... accept major challenges throughout your life. Because of you, and your potential to change the world, I am proud to be Head of this school." - Ann Pollina, excerpts from her remarks at her Installation as Head of Westover, October 1997.
Two Independent Senior Projects were presented this spring: one paired poems with photographs and one documented black/African American students' experiences at boarding school
Westover's Theatre Program won three Halo Awards; "Uncle Vanya" won as Best Classical Play and two students won Halo Awards for their performances.