Originally built in 1814, Chester Academy was once considered one of the most prestigious private schools in New England, with a strong curriculum and advanced music department.
During the mid-1800's the academy drew students from all over the east coast, and graduated the likes of governors, state senators, civil war generals, doctors and other community leaders.
The Academy building occupied a location on the Green in Chester, before it was legislated out of existence in 1876 and subsequently torn down.
In 1881 the new high school was built farther back from the road and is now the location of the Chester Historical Society.
However, the original location of the Acadeny was much closer to the road and it's complete footprint is unknown.
Enter former Chester resident and Springfield High School graduate Shawn Patch, a visiting archeologist who now works for New South Associates in Greensboro, NC.
Using 21st century technology, Patch will conduct a ground penetrating radar (GPR) survey at the Chester Academy.
GPR is a remote sensing technique frequently used by archaeologists to locate and identify buried objects.
It is fast, accurate, efficient and non-evasive technique used in areas where traditional excavation is not possible.
Patch's survey will cover the area where the original academy foundation is suspected to have existed, buried beneath the current ground surface.
The hope is that the foundation or cellar will still exist and be detectable in the GPR data because of it's high contrast with the surrounding soil.
If all goes well, the Chester Historical Society will apply to the Division of Historic Sites for a Chester Academy site marker, which would also mark the first official site marker of this type in the Town of Chester.
Patch will also be looking to investigate an old Chester mystery involving Brookside Cemetery, in which a tall marble obelisk sits on a mound near the rear of the cemetary.
The only marking on the stone is "Susie". It is believed this is the burial site of perhaps a horse, and the GPR could provide data for which this mystery can be solved.
This project is sponsored by the Chester Masons, who partially funded the original academy building and used the third floor of the building for their meetings.
Other contributors included Mr. And Mrs. Tom Bock and an anonymous donor.
Ron Patch of the Chester Historical Society also contributed information to this article.