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The History of Housatonic Community College

In 1966, Housatonic Community College started as a branch of Norwalk Community College as a result of a Public Act 330 passed by the State Legislature in 1965. In 1967, HCC became an independent institution. At this time, the College was located in Stratford, using various temporary facilities.

In January, 1971, Housatonic moved to the Singer Metric Building at 510 Barnum Ave. in Bridgeport. The building was leased for ten years with an option to renew for five years. HCC’s Barnum Ave. address remained for almost 30 years.

In 1997 HCC had approximately 2,700 students, and moved in January to its first permanent campus at 900 Lafayette Boulevard in Bridgeport, immediately experiencing a significant enrollment increase. In spring 2011, the enrollment was just under 6,000 students.

In the fall of 2006, work began on the refitting of a building at the southern perimeter of the campus that gave the College an additional, approximate 174,500 gross square feet used for classrooms, student, and community activities, an enlarged bookstore, and other facilities to serve the expanded population and accommodate community events. Beacon Hall opened its doors for the fall semester in 2008, sharing the campus with Lafayette Hall which housed the administrative, business, registrar, and financial aid offices, classrooms, the HCC Library, and the Burt Chernow Galleries.

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Housatonic Community College
Dates and Facts


The College opened at the Stratford Community College Center as a branch of Norwalk Community College with 378 students in the first semester. Various sites were used for classes including Bunnell High School, Wooster Junior High School, Stratford United Methodist Church, Alliance Medical Inns. Building, Masonic Temple, Stratford Public Library, and trailers.


Housatonic Community College became an independent part of the Connecticut Community College system. The Housatonic Museum of Art was founded with works donated by artists and collectors under the leadership of Burt Chernow, HCC Art Professor. The HMA is now one of the largest permanent collections of any two-year college in the United States, the collection valued at over $13 million. HCC's first president was Edward Liston.


The Inaugural Exhibition of the HMA was held at the Museum of Art, Science and Industry in Bridgeport. Among the works from the Museum on exhibit were those by Larry Rivers, John Marshall, Andy Warhol, Elaine deKooning, Milton Avery, Robert Rauschenberg, Takeshi Kawashima, and others.


Housatonic moved to the former Singer Metrics Building on Barnum Ave. in Bridgeport as a temporary move while the search for a permanent site was undertaken.


The College inaugurated its second president, Vincent Darnowski.


The Housatonic Community College Foundation, Inc. was founded by a group of Greater Bridgeport residents, business and arts leaders to assist the College and its students beyond the fundamentals provided by the state. The Foundation was IRS approved as a tax-exempt organization


The College changed its name to Housatonic Community-Technical College in recognition of the extended mission to provide high-level technical education to students in the region. Bonding was approved for the purchase of the former Hi-Ho Mall at Lafayette Boulevard as a permanent site for the College.


The State of Connecticut took title of the Lafayette Boulevard property.


Classes began at the new campus on January 27. The Burt Chernow Gallery of the Housatonic Museum was named for the founder of the Museum. The opening exhibit was Ansel Adams: Classic Images. Many of the photographs were on public view for the first time. Over 8,000 visitors came to view the exhibition. The College's third president, Janis Wertz (Hadley), was inaugurated.


U.S. President Bill Clinton visited the College on March 3. He toured the building with a specific visit to the Early Childhood School Lab. He made a speech in the PAC about early childhood education.


The College name was changed to Housatonic Community College in an October vote of the Trustees.


Housatonic became one of three community colleges in Connecticut to receive an Achieving the Dream four-year grant from the Lumina Foundation to determine ways to assist at-risk students to achieve success.


Ground was broken for the addition to the campus of a second building, the former Sears building, at the southern perimeter of the campus. The College celebrated its 40th anniversary. The HCC Foundation launched its first Major Gifts Campaign - Pathways to Success and exceeded its $1 million goal. The College's fourth president, Anita Gliniecki, was inaugurated


Beacon Hall opened in September and Housatonic became a two-building campus, Lafayette Hall remaining the home of the Burt Chernow Galleries and the administrative offices. The buildings were named by a college-wide contest. Names selected were chosen from over 100 submissions and the final (blind) decision was made by a committee and the President. Lafayette Hall was the entry of two staff members; Beacon Hall was the entry of a student. Enrollment exceeded 5,000 students.


HCC received a Developmental Education Initiative grant from the Gates Foundation, administered by MDC, Inc. to sustain and expand the student success initiatives started under the College's participation in Achieving the Dream.


Enrollment exceeded 6,000 students in the fall.


The HCC Advanced Manufacturing Center opened in Lafayette Hall, funded by the Connecticut Legislature, House Bill #6801, An Act Promoting Economic Growth and Job Creation. HCC was one of three community colleges (Naugatuck and Quinebaug) sharing the grant.


HCC Receives federal funding from the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College Career and Training Grant to create new programs in Healthcare and Information Technology, and to expand the training offered in the Advanced Manufacturing Center.


Dr. Paul Broadie II became Housatonic’s 5th president. Work was started on the expansion and renovation to Lafayette Hall. The expansion will create a one-stop welcoming center, adding 46,000 sq. ft. and two more stories to the building. The renovation will provide more classroom, lab, and studio space.