Building the Dorm

Early History of Brownington Academy

Building the Academy’s Dormitory

The trustees delayed to enter upon this work and finally declined to erect such a building as he thought necessary. The discussion of this question, and other matters relating to the school and church went so far as to become acrimonious and the oneness of feeling just spoken of was destroyed for a time, and some became alienated from Mr. Twilight, and for some years he was left alone by the trustees to run the school as he saw fit.

With that unconquerable will and energy that were his characteristics he determined to enter upon the work of building a house himself. Getting what he could by voluntary subscriptions, part of which the subscribers had the promise would be returned to them, he commenced the erection of what has since been known as the old “stone boarding house,” or what many used to call it in its palmiest (sic) days, “Athenian Hall.”

It was a great work for those days. If the derrick had been invented its use had not commenced in this region. By the old fashioned way the blocks were removed from their bed and placed in position in the building. The rock was mostly split from a single boulder that lay a short distance east of the site and north of the road. A single ox has also obtained some celebrity in connection with the erection, he having been used in drawing the blocks of granite up an embankment made on the south side of the building. That historic ox will probably always be mentioned when the parents tell their children about the erection of the stone boarding house, until its walls crumble back to earth. The house was not fully completed for several years, but was used for school purposes.

The furnishing and all involved a large outlay of money. Mr. Twilight invested all that he had and found himself at the end embarrassed by debt. This matter was further complicated by a new danger which threatened the prosperity of the school. An academy had been chartered at Craftsbury by the legislature in 1829 and now it came forward demanding a share of the public money. Mr. Twilight had a vital interest in this matter both as an individual and a member of the community. He foresaw, as he thought, that if one division was made the way would be easier for another, and so in a short time the fund would be spread out so thin it would help nobody, and the cause of education would suffer accordingly.