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Girard College
Entry 10 of 17
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Opened in 1890, the Middle School Building housed classrooms and student facilities for the middle school grades. It was originally called Building #10 and was later renamed in 1927 as the Middle School Building. Designed by Girard College alumnus and architect James H. Windrim, the building was known by students as the “castle” due to its notable medieval-like turrets. Initially half funded with money left to Girard College by Illinois farmer Lawrence Todd, it was the only early campus building to have been funded by outside donations, although the approximately $77,000 was later repaid to the Todd fund. The Middle School Building was demolished in 1975.

  • 1893 photo of Building No. 10, later known as the Middle School Building.
  • 1888 illustration of Middle School Building.
  • Middle School Building
  • Teacher and students in Middle School Building classroom.
  • 6th grade students moving through the Middle School Building in 1948.

In 1888, Girard College made plans for a new school building that could accommodate about 200 students in the middle school grades. Building #10 was constructed in 1889 and opened in 1890 for school and classroom use. James H. Windrim, a Girard College alumnus and the appointed architect for the Board of Directors of City Trusts, designed the building in the Gothic revival style he previously used for the first Chapel and Buildings #7, #8, and #9. Located behind the Chapel, Building #10 was memorable for its distinctive castle-like turrets. The 3-story white marble building was comprised of two wings connected by a corridor. The basement had playrooms that could be used during inclement weather. The first and second floors consisted of eight classrooms each. The third floor had a large auditorium, where entertainment, guest speakers, and exhibitions were hosted for students. This new school building allowed Girard College to increase its student population to over 1,500 students. Although the organization of grades in the middle school often fluctuated and varied throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, it typically consisted of the 4th-6th grades, which are today considered to be upper elementary school grades. The 7th and 8th grades were included in the middle school during certain time periods as well.

The completion of Building #10 was half funded by the bequest of Lawrence Todd, an Illinois farmer who visited Girard College in the early years of its operation and left his fortune to the school in his will. His original bequest of roughly $20,000 had increased to nearly $77,000 by 1890 through investments. The rest of the approximately $144,000 for construction and furniture costs was financed by Stephen Girard’s estate. A brass plaque to memorialize Todd was mounted at the building’s east entrance after it opened. The school even considered naming Building #10 as the Todd Building in honor of the late benefactor. Later on in 1922, the Board of Directors decided against using outside donations for campus expenses that did not directly benefit students. The $77,000 used from the Todd bequest was repaid to the fund, which would instead be used to grant college scholarships to Girard College graduates. 

When all of the numbered buildings on campus officially received names in 1927, Building #10 was renamed as the Middle School Building. In 1928, the Middle School and High School Buildings were connected by a newly built annex, which contained a small gym and pool. The auditorium on the third floor was replaced in 1937 by a “library-laboratory”, which supplied reading materials for the elementary and middle schools as well as AV equipment for their teachers. It was also used for class instruction, student research, and leisurely reading. In 1959, all 1st-3rd grade classes were moved into the Middle School Building so that the Junior School Building could be solely used as a dormitory for the elementary and middle schools. In 1975, the Middle School Building was demolished and later replaced with a parking lot.

Chronology of GIRARD COLLEGE, 1832-2016. June 2016. Compiled by Gil Bunker, Thomas J. DiFilippo, Walter C. Gold, and Cheesman A. Herrick for the Founder's Hall collections in Girard College.

DiFilippo, Thomas J. Stephen Girard, The Man, His College and Estate. Edition 2nd. 1999. Accessed August 24 2020.

Girard College, Annual Reports of the Board of Directors of the Girard College of Orphans. Philadelphia, PA. 

Girard College. President's Reports and Catalogue of Pupils - Girard College, The City of Philadelphia, Trustee. Philadelphia, PA. 

Herrick, Cheesman A. History of Girard College. Philadelphia, PA. Girard College, 1927.

Scattergood, David. Hand Book of Girard College. Illustrated. Philadelphia, PA. D. Scattergood, 1888.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Girard College Historical Collections.

Scattergood, David. Hand Book of Girard College. Illustrated, Page 40. Philadelphia: D. Scattergood, 1888.

Girard College Historical Collections.

Girard College Historical Collections.

Girard College Historical Collections.