Goodwin School was originally built in 1942. In 1952 a new wing and a Gymnasium was added onto the school. In 1966 due to termite infestation, the main building had to be torn down. In 1968 the present Goodwin School reopened.
Who was Joseph O. Goodwin?
According to a biography written by Ralph E. Goodwin, Mr. Goodwin was born in East Hartford on April 16, 1843 in a house (since removed) situated on the east side of Main Street on land which is still owned by the family. He was a descendant of Ozias Goodwin, who came to Boston from England in 1632, and through the wilderness to Hartford with Thomas Hooker’s first party in 1635. John Goodwin, in the direct line of descent, came to East Hartford from Hartford in 1697 and acquired the land on which Mr. Goodwin was born and lived continuously throughout his life. On his mother’s side he was descended from Hannah Goodwin and William Pitkin, who settled in East Hartford about 1661.
During his boyhood he attended the common schools of East Hartford, and afterwards a private school conducted by Salmon Phelps. His first knowledge of business was obtained in the general store and Posts Office kept by his father, who for may years was Justice of the Peace and Town Clerk. In 1862 he left his father’s store to learn the printing business in the office of Calhoun Brothers of Hartford, where he continued until 1871. From 1871 to 1874 he assisted his brother Edward in business and devoted his spare time to writing. October 5, 1874 he was elected Town Clerk, and from that date until his death was returned to office at every election. His active interest in all public questions, as well as his official position, made him a prominent figure in town affairs for more than 48 years. In 1876 he married Harriet Jane Spencer, the daughter of Ralph G. Spencer and Harriet Williams, and built the house at 984 Main Street in which he resided until his death. He had three children, two of whom are living, and two grandchildren. His wife died in 1907.
Mr. Goodwin was interested in education and, until restricted in his activities by advancing years and by the increased volume of work in the Town Clerk’s Office, was actively connected with the administration of the local school system. He was influential in founding the East Hartford High School, and later worked indefatigably for school consolidation until it became a fact. From 1879 to 1921 he was Secretary of the School Board and for many years was Chairman of the High School Committee.
In addition to his duties as Town Clerk and Secretary of the School Board, Mr. Goodwin found time for numerous other activities of a public or semi-public character. During his long life he filled many positions of trust and responsibility, among which may be mentioned: Representative to Connecticut General Assembly, 1878: Trustee, Director and Secretary of the Raymond Library Company; Treasurer of the Village Improvement Society; Secretary of the Center Cemetery Committee; Secretary of the Co-operative Savings Society of
Connecticut and Manager of its Loan Department; Director of the Dime Savings Bank of Hartford.
During his youth he devoted his leisure time to writing, and if public duties had not interfered, he perhaps would have made a name for himself in this field. He was one of the publishers of East Hartford’s first newspaper, THE ELM LEAF, which first appeared in 1863. In 1870 an article by him was published in Harper’s Magazine, and subsequently he contributed to Harper’s the Youth’s Companion and other periodicals. In 1879 he published a 250 page history of East Hartford entitled, "East Hartford, Its History and Traditions." This book is now out-of-print and is listed in Goodspeed’s catalog of rare Americana. He also wrote by request a short history of the town for Trumbull’s "Memorial History of Hartford County."
During the major part of his forty-eight years as Town Clerk he performed all his duties without assistance. It is estimated that in that time he filled in long-hand more than 20,000 pages in the East Hartford Land Records, or about 14,000,000 words, in addition to his numerous other tasks and activities. He was an amateur botanist and ornithologist and was well acquainted with local flowers and birds. His principal interest, however, centered in local history, as is evidenced by his History of East Hartford, his won copy of which is filled with marginal notes and clippings containing information collected after the publication of the original edition. At the time of his death he had for many years been a member of the Connecticut Historical Society. In connection with his historical researches he became interested in genealogy and in collecting objects of historical interest. His collection of Indian relics contains some fine specimens which the Smithsonian Institute of Washington once borrowed and photographed for its records. Other objects of interest in the collection are relics of Colonial times.
He died March 7, 1923 at his home, 984 Main Street, East Hartford, following an acute heart attack, which occurred February 17. Until then he had enjoyed his usual god health and for many years had not consulted a doctor nor missed a day at his office on account of illness. Mr. Goodwin died at the age of 80.