December 8, 2019


Dr. Jacob Frank Tourtellotte

Dr. Jacob Frank Tourtellotte

Jacob Tourtellotte and his wife Harriet funded the design and construction of the high school and presented it to the Town of Thompson in 1909.  Beginning in 1906, Harriet took an especially keen interest in all aspects of the school’s site selection and construction.  She strongly felt that the fourteen-acre site, the current home of TMHS, overlooking North Grosvenordale would be a perfect location for the school, and through her influence, convinced the Grosvenor-Dale Company to donate the land. The Tourtellottes also built and donated buildings to house the school’s teachers and administrators and left to the town sufficient funds to operate and maintain the school for many years.

The Tourtellottes, both natives of the Town of Thompson, moved to the mid-west after the Civil War where they eventually made their fortunes. Never losing their love for the place they called home, they donated the school because of their extraordinary commitment to a free education for the young men and women of Thompson. They named the school the Tourtellotte Memorial High School, not after themselves, but in loving memory of their two daughters who both died in childhood.

Francis Harriet Tourtellotte

Francis Harriet and daughter, Harriet Lucinda Mary

Mrs. Tourtellotte was the daughter of a Thompson mill owner, William Arnold, a partner in the Masonville Mills, Masonville, CT, now known as Grosvenordale, CT. When Harriet completed her grammar schooling in Thompson, her father sent her to an out-of-town high school since Thompson did not then have a public high school. She was one of very few women given the opportunity to receive a high school education at that time. She always greatly appreciated the educational opportunity she was given and felt strongly that others should have an equal opportunity. During a visit to Thompson in the early 1900s, she heard numerous complaints about the lack of a public high school in town, and she quickly mobilized the town to accept the responsibility for a public high school if funds could be found to construct one. After some lengthy discussion the town agreed and the deal was assembled, with the cornerstone laid December 1907.

Do you know about the history of Tourtellotte Memorial High School?  Stay tuned for more articles written by Joe Lindley ’74, President of the TMHS Alumni Association.