Glenwood Academy along Western Avenue in 1917. Courtesy of the Brattleboro Historical Society.

Thursday, October 17, 11 AM in front of Academy School

860 Western Ave, Brattleboro, VT 05301

On Thursday, October 17th, at 11 a.m., the West Brattleboro Association, in conjunction with the Brattleboro Words Project and Brattleboro Literary Festival, are unveiling a Historic Marker commemorating four historic schools that stood near the current site of today’s Academy School, and acclaimed local author Mary E. Wilkins Freeman.

Mary E. Wilkins Freeman was repeatedly voted the most popular female author during the 19th century. Best known for her short stories, she published over 250 in her lifetime. Freeman spent a significant part of her life in Brattleboro, and credited Brattleboro for its influence on her writing and success. During her time here, Mary attended the Glenwood Ladies Seminary, one of the four schools being commemorated with the historic marker.

The historic marker will have one side dedicated to the schools, and one side dedicated to Freeman, an important figure in American Literature. “We were planning a marker for the schools and were pleased to learn about Mary Wilkins Freeman’s connection,” said Michael Bosworth, West Brattleboro Association. “It is great to bring students and the public to recognize this important history.  The Glenwood Ladies Seminary may have been the most interesting of the 4 schools. It was a 19th century example of a private secondary boarding school for females, and in 1860 its first class had 128 students from nine states plus Constantinople.” The other schools included (beginning in 1801) are Brattleborough Academy, Glenwood Classical Seminary and the old Academy School (torn down in 1957). The organizers would like to thank the State of Vermont for approving and funding this new historic marker, and Brattleboro’s Department of Public Works for installing it.

Mary E. Wilkins Freeman. Courtesy of the Brattleboro Historical Society

The ceremony on October 17th will kick-off the 2019 Brattleboro Literary Festival. Mary E. Wilkins Freeman is one of the writers with a history in Brattleboro being celebrated at this years’ festival, along with Rudyard Kipling, who wrote the Jungle Book while living in Dummerston. Brent Kendrick, a scholar on Freeman’s life and works, will give a brief address, and teachers and students from Academy School will share children’s stories by Freeman.  Local alum of the old Academy School will also share a few words on their experiences there and their family connections to the other schools at the site.

The Brattleboro Literary Festival will continue that evening at 7 pm at Brooks Memorial Library with talks by Brent Kendrick, author of Infant Sphinx: The Collected Letters of Mary E. Wilkins Freeman and Christopher Benfey, author of If: The Untold Story of Kipling’s American Years. They will discuss the lives of both Mary E. Wilkins Freeman and Rudyard Kipling, and how they knew each other.

Cover of the first catalog for Glenwood Ladies Seminary, December 24, 1860. Credit: American Antiquarian Society