Have you ever wondered why KUA was built on a hilltop? Not to keep us fit by trudging up and down it all day, but primarily because in 1769 Daniel Kimball’s father Benjamin brought his family to Plainfield, NH, from Preston, CT, and purchased from the original town proprietors over 750 acres of land which included the village of Meriden. Benjamin died in 1796 leaving his property to Daniel. When in 1812 the New England Council of Churches met in Windsor, Vermont, to make plans to create an Academy, the Honorable Daniel Kimball, a church delegate from Meriden, spoke up and said that if Union Academy, as it was to be called, were to be in Meriden, he would give $6,000 at once and the bulk of his estate at his death (estimated to be another $32,000 to $36,000). The council agreed. Kimball chose a site in the vicinity of Baxter Hall and across from his own home (now the current home of Ian Gregory-Davis ’13.) In addition to funding the project, much of the labor for the building was done by Kimball himself. In a letter printed in The Kimball Union newspaper in February 1903, former New Hampshire Governor Chester B. Jordan, KUA class of 1866 described Kimball’s efforts,”My father was present when Hon. Daniel Kimball was building the first academy. He said the old gentleman was hauling stone with his old mare hitched to a stone-boat, and laying up the foundation with his own hands. He endowed it living and dying.”Daniel Kimball died five years later at the age of 64. The trustees honored him for his great commitment to education by adding Kimball to Union Academy.
Illustration: The First Academy (artist’s impression)