History

“This plan means peace to my soul."
Theodate Pope Riddle, Founder

The "village of Old Farms" Begins

Theodate Pope Riddle

Founded in 1927, Avon Old Farms Connecticut boarding school for boys is the creation of Theodate Pope Riddle, one of Connecticut’s first licensed female architects.

 

Construction of Avon’s Cotswold-inspired buildings took nearly a decade. Riddle supervised the work, insisting on traditional English methods, with much of the building materials hewn from school property.

About Theodate Pope Riddle

February 2, 1867 - August 30, 1946

Theodate Pope Riddle grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and attended Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Connecticut. Ever since she was a child, Theodate hoped to forge a future where she could live in the country, care for orphans, and build a school. Her hard work and pioneering efforts to pursue a profession in architecture paid off in the construction of significant buildings such as the Hill-Stead home (now open to the public to tour), Westover School in Middlebury, CT, reconstructing Theodore Roosevelt's birthplace in New York, NY, and of course — the Connecticut boarding school for boys, Avon Old Farms.

Theodate Pope Riddle's wedding

Theodate and John's Wedding

UNSINKABLE

In May 1915, Theodate was a passenger on the R.M.S. Lusitania when it was torpedoed by a German submarine. She, along with 764 out of 1,962 passengers and crew were pulled out of the waters alive. Although she was unconscious and sent to a nearby morgue following the tragedy, she overcame her injuries and one year later married John Wallace Riddle. The Riddles traveled around the globe extensively and — true to her childhood dreams — Theodate took in several orphaned children, raising them as her own foster children.

Trailblazer

Avon Old Farms' motto Aspirando et Perseverando embodies Theodate Pope Riddle's life of grit and determination. Her desire for excellence in her life, and her strength to pursue her dreams regardless of what society told her, continue to thrive in all we do at this unique Connecticut boarding school for boys.

The Indestructible School for Boys

“I saw the buildings completely surround the Village Green at Avon–none of which existed at that time. They began moving, coming forward and receding, shifting slightly and finally one of them backed off. Of course there is great joy in this which can never be brought out by any effort.”

Theodate Pope Riddle, Founder

Eras of the 'Old Farm'

The Winged Beaver

winged beaver gold seal

 

In the early years, Avon combined the best of English and American secondary school traditions with Theodate Pope Riddle's progressive ideas about curriculum, fostering initiative, willpower, and individual thinking. Her chosen school mascot, the Winged Beaver, reflects the school’s motto Aspirando et Perseverando, which translates into aspiring and persevering. The wings of aspiration represent the soaring flight of an eagle and perseverance is symbolized in the diligence of a beaver.