Maria Bissell Hotchkiss

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Maria Bissell Hotchkiss
Born 1827
Salisbury, Connecticut
Died 1901
New York City
Education Amenia Academy
Occupation Educator
Spouse(s) Benjamin B. Hotchkiss
Parent(s) William Bissell
Eliza Ann Loveland

Maria Harrison (Bissell) Hotchkiss (1827–1901) was an American heiress, philanthropist, and educator. She was the 1891 founder of the Hotchkiss School, a private boarding school in Lakeville, Connecticut.


Early life[edit]

Maria Harrison Bissell was born in 1827 in Salisbury, Connecticut.[1] She grew up in Tory Hill, Connecticut.[1] Her father was William Bissell and her mother, Eliza Ann Loveland. She had two siblings. She was a member of the famed Bissell family and related to President Benjamin Harrison.[1] She was educated at Amenia Academy.[1]


She worked as a teacher at her alma mater, Amenia Academy.[1]

Upon receiving her husband's inheritance, she suggested macadamizing the streets of and Sharon, Connecticut for use of automobiles.[1] However, the idea was rejected by both towns, who thought the upkeep would be too expensive.[1] Instead, she was convinced by Timothy Dwight V, the Chancellor of Yale University, to start a preparatory school.[1] As a result, she founded the Hotchkiss School, a private boarding school in Lakeville, in 1891.[2][3] A philanthropist, she donated the land, the buildings and the endowment for the school.[3]

In 1893, she founded the Hotchkiss Library in Sharon, Connecticut.[4][5] She helped choose the architectural design.[5]

Personal life[edit]

She married Benjamin B. Hotchkiss.[1] However, he became a bigamist when he moved to Paris and married another woman, Mrs Cunningham.[1] Later, she resided at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.[3]


She died in 1901 in New York City.[3]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Stephen Birmingham, 'What Made Maria Do It?', in Hotchkiss: A Chronicle of an American School, Ernest Kolowrat (ed.), New Amsterdam Books, 1998, pp. 1-12 [1]
  2. ^ Lael Tucker Wertenbaker, Maude Hill Basserman, The Hotchkiss School: A Portrait, Hotchkiss School, 1966, p. 1 [2]
  3. ^ a b c d The New Encyclopaedia Britannica: Macropaedia : Knowledge in depth, Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1975, p. 93 [3]
  4. ^ Hotchkiss Library website
  5. ^ a b Sharon Historical Society, Sharon, Arcadia Publishing, 2014, p. 47 [4]