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Deerfield Academy opened on January 1, 1799 in a two-story brick building designed by an American architect, Asher Benjamin. The newly chartered academy offered a classical education to young men and women of high school age both from the town of Deerfield and from towns as distant as Charlestown, New Hampshire, and Springfield, Massachusetts. The Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association purchased the building in 1877 when the Academy moved to new quarters on the main street in town. The Association renovated the former Academy building and it opened in 1880 as the Memorial Hall Museum. The building wing was built in 1916, after the death of George Sheldon, the founder of the Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association.