How it Started
The Williams School opened in 1891 as Williams Memorial Institute (WMI).
The School was privately endowed by a bequest from the estate of founder Harriet Peck Williams as a memorial to her son, Thomas W. Williams II. Since then it has grown and expanded to serve students from the greater New London and Middlesex Counties for over 130 years.
The School was created as a high school for “the promotion and advancement of female education” at a time when few saw it as a priority. WMI served as the high school for girls of New London and several surrounding towns operating on Broad Street in New London which now operates as one of the courthouses in the Connecticut State Judicial system, listed on the register of Historic Buildings of Connecticut.
Growth & Change
Growth and change for the School was accelerated in the post-war era when the academic program shifted to a college preparatory liberal arts curriculum. In 1954, the School moved from Broad Street to its present location on the Connecticut College campus. Other major changes for Williams were the addition of a middle school (grades 7 & 8) in 1955.
In 1971 the School became coeducational.
2014 to Present
The Williams School expands.
In 2014 the School expanded its middle school, adding a sixth grade, and moved from an AP curriculum to a distinctive Advanced Courses curriculum. Most recently, the School has expanded its partnership with the College to include a College Acceleration Program offering juniors and seniors to take one course each semester at the College.
Additionally, the School now offers a Interdisciplinary Certificate Program for students to focus their field of study in one high-demand disciplines: engineering, environmental sustainability, global perspectives, and humanities and the arts.
The School is now an independent college preparatory day school with students from over 35 local communities in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and China.
Williams signs a partnership with Connecticut College establishing a new “College Acceleration Program” allowing juniors and seniors to take one course per semester at the College.
Additionally, the School creates a new Interdisciplinary Certificate Program allowing students to focus their field of study in engineering, environmental sustainability, global perspectives, and humanities and the arts.
Williams completes construction of the new Turf Field and Terrace at the Athletic Complex.
The School partners with Apex International Educational Partners (AIEP) to bring International Students from China to Williams.
A sixth grade class is added, rounding out a more robust middle school. The School shifts to a new “Advanced Courses Curriculum” allowing teachers to go beyond traditional AP curricula.
The School acquires property on Bloomingdale Road, which will later become the School’s Athletic Complex.
Additionally, the Weissman Student Center, Bulkely Gymnasium, Science Wing were all added to the campus.
Williams began welcoming International Students in 2015.
The School grows to welcome male students, shifting to a co-educational model.
Williams was awarded a chapter of the Cum Laude Society and the first class of seniors participated “The Senior Project”, working independently to find a stronger sense of direction in their career choices.
Williams adds a middle school for 7th and 8th grade students.
Williams moved to a new building on the campus of
The School expands, opening Palmer Hall, from a gift of Misses Theodora and Virginia Palmer in recognition of their Father, Frank L. Palmer.
The Alumnae Association is founded, giving back to the school providing assets like books, a piano and other equipment.
The School opened under the leadership of Colin S. Buell, who served as an incorporator and trustee of Connecticut College upon its founding in 1919.
The School’s original building, Williams Hall —now the New London Superior Courthouse— is built by architects Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge in a romanesque style similar to the New London Public Library and Train Station.
Harriet Peck Williams dies and the fund for the School begins to accumulate in the care of trustees.
Harriet Peck Williams bequeathed a tract of land and money from her estate to endow a school “for the promotion and advancement of female education” upon the death and in memory of her son Thomas W. Williams II.