Sidwell Friends School
Backstory and Context
In 1883, Thomas Sidwell founded the Friends’ Select School, projected to be an all-genders daytime education school, at the young age of 24. SIdwell who had been a teacher at the Baltimore Friends School, was given the opportunity to open and operate his school in Washington, DC, by the headmaster of the Baltimore Friends School, Eli Lamb. At the outset, the school only had 18 students. As the years passed, however, the Friends’ Select School grew in student and faculty, and in 1903, the school was reported to have had an overall enrollment of 200 students in kindergarten through high school levels of education. In 1906, Sidwell changed the name of the school to simply “Friends’ School.” Soon after, Sidwell began to execute a plan to develop the school further, acquiring new buildings, and developing the curriculum, with a large emphasis on college prep and college placement programs.
In 1934, Sidwell changed the school once again to be named “The Sidwell Friends School,” created a board of Trustees for the school, and incorporated the school as a nonprofit. Sidwell did not do this a moment too soon, as only two years later, Thomas Sidwell died, leaving the school in the hands of the Board of Trustees he had commissioned. In the following decades, the school would continue to grow in both physical size and programs, purchasing a campus in Bethesda, Maryland, enacting large-scale renovation projects, and making sure that the school was up to date with emergent educational technologies. On March 16th of 1972, the DC campus was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Today, the Sidwell Friends School continues to be one of the top private schools in Washington, DC.