It was not until the latter part of the 1800's that some type of higher education was available. By 1890 Bridge Academy was established, by private endowment, providing the type of education that enabled young adults to go out into the world in other than the labor field.
Bridge Academy came into existence due to the generosity of Llewellyn Lithgow and Samuel Bridge. Later, additional endowments from Edmund and Frederick Bridge enhanced the potential for "A Free High School for the children of Dresden". It served in that capacity for the youth of Dresden, and other 'tuition' students from many areas until 1966. There were over 430 students who earned their high school diplomas between 1892 and 1966. As the high school enrollment decreased, the Trustees voted to let the seventh and eighth grades use a room from 1946 until 1983 when the town voted to send all seventh and eighth grade students to Wiscasset High School.
In 1966 due to requirements under new State laws regarding the fact that some tax money had been involved, and which included added courses and more space, which the B.A. income could not provide, the building could no longer serve as a high school. The Trustees allowed the Town to continue using the building as a Junior High.
In 1891 an act of the Legislature was approved incorporating Bridge Academy for the 'promotion of education, literature and science'. Therefore in 1984, Trustees of Bridge Academy set up a Public Library to serve the young people of the town and all other residents. Adult educational courses have been offered. Donations are made to the Kenyon Memorial Art Fund and to the Dresden Elementary School for special programs that the taxpayers' money does not provide. Scholarships are awarded to Dresden college students who meet certain requirements.
For anyone interested in the detailed, and at times, the emotionally involved, issues before the actual construction of the building, you may refer to Charles Edwin Allen's History of Dresden. The site chosen was near the center of the Dresden Mills section of the Town of Dresden and the architect from Boston was George A. Clough. The builder, Roscoe M. Beedle was from Dresden.
The basement included space for furnace, an exercise room and two rest rooms, and at one time a bowling alley. The grounds provided a baseball field, tennis and basketball courts. Dedicatory exercises were held on December 1, 1890 and the school officially opened December 8, 1890.
On May 16, 1891 the first graduation class held its exercises in the Methodist Church, which is still in existence in Dresden Village. College Preparatory, Lithgow Commercial, Scientific and General Courses required many subjects: English, French, Latin, Plane and Solid Geometry, Algebra, Trigonometry, Biology, Chemistry, Ancient American and Medieval History, Typing, Shorthand, Spelling, Jr. Business Training, Guidance, Commercial Law, Business Math and Commercial Geography.
Extra curricular activities varied from time to time but Prize Speaking Contests and Play Productions were popular while Winter Carnivals added to the other season's outdoor sports.
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