Two Institutions Becoming One
The Collegiate Institute for Young Ladies & St. Margaret’s School for Girls
The Collegiate Institute for Young Ladies was established in 1865 and led by Reverend R.G. Williams and his wife for its first four years. The school was located on Cooke and Grove Streets in downtown Waterbury.
The Collegiate Institute for Young Ladies went through a number of principals in quick succession following Rev. R.G. Williams and his wife and was closed for a year due to severe financial problems.
On June 8, 1875, Rev. Francis Thayer Russell, assistant minister at St. John’s Church, paid off the school’s debts with the help of the Waterbury Community and obtained a charter. The property was presented to the Episcopal Church for a diocesan school and was renamed St. Margaret’s School for Girls, after Queen Margaret of Scotland and her exemplary values and virtues.
Dr. Russell became Rector. The first reunion for St. Margaret’s graduates was held and the Alumnae Association was formed on June 16, 1882.
Over the next two decades, St. Margaret’s School began to offer extracurriculars such as sports teams, Glee Club, a literary magazine and a yearbook. In 1891, Miss Hillard was appointed assistant principal and spent the following sixteen years as principal until she left in 1907.
After sixteen years, Miss Hillard left her role as principal and was replaced by Miss Emily Gardner Munro. The connection to the Episcopal Church was maintained and the Rev. John Lewis was appointed Rector of St. Margaret’s. During this time, Miss Munro refined the curriculum to require proficiency in fewer subjects and the college program courses were enhanced.
*1910 McTernan School Opens
Alberta C. Edell, a graduate of Columbia University came to St. Margaret’s as an instructor in the fall of 1913. Over the course of a decade, Miss Edell gained experience and was named to succeed the current principal, Miss Munro, in 1923.
Meanwhile, the Trustees recognized that the current enrollment was overcapacity, so plans for the new campus moved forward, and in the fall of 1928 grades 5-12 moved to a new school building on Chase Parkway. The new brick building stood on a knoll overlooking the city of Waterbury and the library and drawing rooms were named after Frederick J. Kingsbury and Augustus S. Chase, two benefactors and trustees of the school.
Soon a building named St. Margaret's "Little School" was erected on Columbia Boulevard in place of the old school and girls enrolled from grades K-4.
Miss Edell retired in June 1948, after twenty-five years as Headmistress. Miss Ruth Chandler (later Mrs. Douglas Auld Shepardson) was appointed to fill the position. Miss Chandler had come to St. Margaret's in 1920 and taught English for 28 years. Under her administration, St. Margaret's was invited to form a chapter of the Cum Laude Society - the first girls' school in Connecticut to be so honored.
At this time, all students, faculty and classes were housed in just one building, so plans were begun to expand the school's physical plant to address the needs created by increased enrollment.
On November 18, 1949, Miss Winifred F. Pine, was named Interim Headmistress until the appointment of Miss Pauline S. Fairbanks as Headmistress in June 1950. Miss Fairbanks quickly became involved in building maintenance and campaigning for capital development. In 1954, the Memorial Building was dedicated. Today, the building is known as Camp Hall and houses the Lower School.
In recognition of the importance of alumnae to the school, three graduates were elected to serve terms on the Board of Trustees in 1951. Then in 1956, Miriam Noble Camp '17 was elected as a regular member of the Board.
In 1961, the property in downtown Waterbury was sold to the McTernan School, and St. Margaret's was now wholly encompassed on the Chase Parkway campus.
The new campus continued to grow. Three properties located near the school were purchased to house faculty, administrators and the Alumnae Office. In 1962, as part of the School's Centennial Progress Program, a Butler building was given to the school by Charles E. Fulkerson and was restructured on the campus. Fulkerson Hall housed a gymnasium, auditorium, language laboratory and day student facilities. Known today as the Fulkerson Arts Center, the building continues to serve as a gymnasium and auditorium where an art studio and photography dark room are now located. The Arts Center is also home to the Highlander Theater Company, the school's theater group.
In 1965, in celebration of the school's one-hundredth year, the Centennial Library was dedicated. The building known as the Upper School was constructed in 1967.
Upon her retirement, Miss Fairbanks was replaced by Mr. Pierson Melcher in 1968, who served until 1972 when Dr. Audrey Cook was named Interim Headmistress.
The decline in the number of boarding students forced the Trustees to entertain the possibility of transforming St. Margaret's into a day school and the option of merging St. Margaret's with another school to create a coeducational institution. Because there had always been a close association between St. Margaret's and the McTernan School, merging the two institutions seemed to be logical. This option was supported by the Boards of Trustees of both schools, and in 1972, the two schools merged to create St. Margaret's-McTernan School, a non-denominational, coeducational country day school located on the Chase Parkway campus.
The McTernan School
In 1910, Mr. Charles McTernan recognized the need for an independent school that would prepare local boys to enter college preparatory schools.
Mr. Frederick Chase of Waterbury had hired Charles McTernan to tutor his sons. In 1912, under his ownership and with financial assistance from such prominent benefactors as Mr. Chase, Mr. Merriman and Dr. Munger, the McTernan School was established.
After establishing his own school in a rented building behind St. Margaret's School at Cooke and Grove Streets, Mr. McTernan was aided by several local businessmen in purchasing land on Columbia Boulevard.
In 1916, a new school building was erected.
In 1917, a house was built to the rear of the new school to house faculty and the McTernan family; in 1925, the Headmaster's Wing was constructed to provide accommodations for a small boarding department. Starting in 1928, these three buildings, which had been connected, were used as one facility. Many boys had been students at St. Margaret's "Little School" for grades K-2, and then attended the McTernan School for grades 3-8.
In 1938, Mr. McTernan deeded his school to a Board of Trustees to be operated as a nonprofit institution.
Mr. Berkeley Hotchkiss, a McTernan School graduate and teacher, was appointed Headmaster in 1946. He instituted language training and athletics into the curriculum and built a new gymnasium in 1955 after a successful capital fund drive.
Mr. Winston Ranft, teacher and coach who had been appointed Assistant Headmaster in 1952, was appointed Headmaster to succeed Mr. Hotchkiss. During his tenure as Headmaster, the McTernan School expanded through the purchase of St. Margaret's "Little School" and restructured to accommodate boys from kindergarten through grade nine and girls from kindergarten through grade four. Mr. Ranft directed the school until 1970 when he moved to Florida.
In 1970, Mr. Clayton B. Spencer succeeded Mr. Ranft as Headmaster and continued in that capacity until 1972 when he was appointed Headmaster of the newly merged St. Margaret's-McTernan School.
Chase Collegiate School
In 2005, St. Margaret's-McTernan School changed its name to Chase Collegiate School. The new name honors the Chase family, which helped to found both St. Margaret's and McTernan, and preserves the original name by which the school was known.