Grade nine students got a taste for the Hilltop’s history on Tuesday morning which included a lesson from renowned farmer, writer, and New Hampshire Rural History Scholar Steve Taylor.
“You have come to an absolutely fabulous place,” said Taylor, a current KUA trustee and former commissioner of agriculture for the State of New Hampshire. “The environment at Kimball Union is rich in history, lore, and stories. During your time here, soak up the environment, the history, and the people who surround you here.”
Taylor guided students through an overview of Meriden’s agricultural background beginning with sheep farmer Daniel Kimball, whose successes empowered him to found Kimball Union Academy in 1813.
His sheep barn, the oldest standing structure in the Town of Plainfield, has served as a reminder of Kimball’s legacy and its connection to rural New England. This year it was relocated beam by beam to the Academy’s lower playing fields where it will serve as a welcome center and event location. Following Taylor’s presentation, the ninth-grade class experienced the very first tour of the Kimball Barn in its new home.
“I think it’s cool that we’re doing this,” said Ella ’26. “I’m glad that KUA invested the time and money to preserve this building instead of tearing it down.”
“Today was really interesting, and I’m glad that we get to learn about this piece of history and see it protected for future generations,” remarked Caroline ’26.
Inside the barn, students enjoyed apple cider and doughnuts beneath the centuries-old posts and beams – a precursor to their trip to Plainfield’s Riverview Farm and McNamara Dairy next week, where they will pick apples to use as they press their own cider. These interconnected experiences foster connection among students, and between students and the surrounding community.
The programming is part of KUA’s new ninth-grade program, Nine by Design, which intentionally meets ninth-grade students at one of the most pivotal points in their educational and developmental journey. “For our ninth graders, helping them to understand their new roots at KUA will help them ground their growth,” said Assistant Head of School Tom Kardel.