History of Williams
The school opened in 1891 as Williams Memorial Institute (WMI), which remains the legal name of the school. It was privately endowed by a bequest of real estate and personal property from the estate of Harriet Peck Williams as a memorial to her son, Thomas W. Williams II. For more on Williams' founding family, see the alumni magazine article by music and history teacher Peter Emanuel. Using a faculty grant he researched the founding family and shared his findings at a student assembly and in the Ambassador.
WMI served as the high school for girls of New London and several surrounding towns. Tuition for attending students was paid by the City of New London and other towns. With the opening of New London High School in 1951, the WMI program became college preparatory rather than comprehensive. In 1954, the school moved to its present location on the Connecticut College campus. A middle school was added in 1955. In 1971, the school became coeducational. The school remains a day school and the present student population of approximately 260 students historically draws from more than 40 communities.
The former home of Williams Memorial Institute now operates as one of the courthouses in the Connecticut State Judicial system, which includes archival postcard images and a brief history on its website. The building is also listed on Historic Buildings of Connecticut.