Editor's note: Beginning next week, Buzz From Around the Bend will be a Saturday feature.
Until 1929, there was a spectacular, imposing structure at the northeast corner of High and William streets. It had a formality and grace that must have made this particular street of grand buildings even more remarkable.
Shown to the right, this building initially housed the "Family School," and the house was known as "Maple Grove." Isaac Webb opened the school for boys in 1833. It offered a rigorous education for boys who intended on continuing their schooling at university. Enrollment was limited to 20 students.
The most famous student at Webb's school was Rutherford B. Hayes, who studied there for two years beginning in 1837. He then graduated from Kenyon College in Ohio and Harvard Law School. Hayes later served as president of the United States from 1877-1881.
In a letter home in December of 1837, Hayes wrote, "I study Latin and Greek; am in the same class as W. Lane. At first it was rather hard to keep up with the class but now I can get along very well. We get up at half past 6 o'clock, breakfast at 7, prayers, and school begins at 9; dinner at 12; begins at 1 till 4, then from 6 till 9. I like this school very much indeed. I never heard of a school that I should like near so well. All the scholars like the school very much and that is more than can be said of most schools. We all like Mr. W [Webb] very much. I think he is the best calculated to take care of a parcel of boys of any man I 'most ever saw, for they soon find out that he is not to be trifled with, and at the same time that he is very pleasant when they suit him."
Webb was born in Cheshire, and was educated at Yale. After practicing law for a few years in New Haven, he moved to Middletown by 1828. He was on the committee that voted to grant Wesleyan the charter to open the school here in 1831.
Stay tuned: More on Webb's school at 5 p.m.