Cultural Heritage Tours

A project of the ETHNIC HERITAGE CENTER

Lower Dixwell Tour

Winchester School

209 Dixwell Avenue

(former)

68 Gregory Street, c. 1930. Courtesy Jewish Historical Society of Greater New Haven.

The original Winchester School was built in 1884 on 68 Gregory Street; the school at 209 Dixwell Avenue was constructed in 1952. Both schools were named for Oliver F. Winchester, who founded Winchester Repeating Arms, one of the largest gun manufacturing companies in the world. He was also Lt. Governor of Connecticut in 1866 and founded the Winchester Observatory at Yale. Isadore L. Wexler became Principal of the school in 1946. He pioneered the community school concept, and Winchester School became an educational force not only for students, but also for adults and parents. It served neighborhood groups and helped develop leadership within the community. Winchester Community School was the first Community School in New England and one of the first in the United States, providing extended hours and services. Dr. Barry E. Herman, former President of both the Jewish Historical Society of Greater New Haven and the Ethnic Heritage Center, served as Winchester School’s Principal for eleven years. Winchester School then had an enrollment of 800 children, many of whom lived in the Elm Haven housing project. As a community school, there were after school activities daily until 10 pm. Winchester Community School was open on weekends and school holidays, providing a variety of activities, including sports, singing groups, arts and crafts, adult education, drama, and ballet. With New Haven’s construction of new school buildings, the Wexler-Grant School (pre K-8) on Foote Street currently serves the community.

  • Text source courtesy Jewish Historical Society of Greater New Haven, including oral history interview with Dr. Barry Herman.

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