The Baldwin School of Bryn Mawr / The Bryn Mawr Hotel
The Baldwin School of Bryn Mawr is one of the United States’ most prestigious all-girls schools. Since 1888, the Baldwin School has served the Greater Philadelphia area and it has been located here in the former Bryn Mawr Hotel for most of those years. While the building has undergone some modifications since its original construction in 1890, the school still calls this building home and has overseen and contributed significantly to its preservation as a historical landmark.
Backstory and Context
Miss Baldwin’s School for Girls was founded in Bryn Mawr, in a much humbler location than the stately Bryn Mawr Hotel that serves as its facilities today. Miss Florence Baldwin began the school in the house owned by her mother with just thirteen students. Five of the thirteen would go on to graduate from the school two years later, and four of those five proceeded to attend the illustrious Bryn Mawr College.
As the number of attendees grew, more space was needed to continue classes. Baldwin first chose to purchase a home across the street from her mother’s home as an extension of the school. Soon after, however, the continued growth of the school demanded a large-scale reorganization. For this, Florence Baldwin turned to the nearby Bryn Mawr Hotel.
With winter business being considerably slower in business for the Hotel, Miss Baldwin was able to work out a deal with the owners; during the winter months, the Hotel would house classes for the Baldwin School. Less than 20 years later, a year-round lease would be negotiated between the Baldwin School and the Bryn Mawr Hotel which would lay the groundwork for the full purchase of the hotel by the school in 1922.
The Bryn Mawr Hotel itself is architecturally and historically significant. The building was designed by Frank Furness, a well-recognized American architect who designed a number of other notable hotels in other cities. The Bryn Mawr Hotel is the last of Furness' remaining buildings and serves as a stately reminder of the best works of an iconic architect. Furness’ works dot the cityscape of the Greater Philadelphia area, but the Bryn Mawr Hotel best displays the Chateau Style he was best known for.
The resilient and open design of the Hotel has been credited for the longevity of its use, a claim which is supported by the fact that it is still in use by the school as of the creation of this entry. Throughout the 1900s the leadership of the Baldwin School organized the purchase of new land and the construction of new buildings and extensions to existing structures. This process included the building of the Elizabeth Frost Johnson Schoolhouse, the Red Gym, and a swimming pool for use by the students.
The 1960s and 70s brought many changes to the Baldwin School including the closure of the boarding program at the school. The Bryn Mawr Hotel (previously referred to by the school as “the Residence”) was converted into a faculty residence, and a new building was built for younger students. 1978 was the year that “the Residence,” and the school it contained for so many years, was listed on the National Park Service’ss National Register of Historic Places.
Since 1978, the Baldwin School has constructed a science building, computer lab, an athletic center and more. It celebrated its 100th year in 1988 and proceeded to gain significant recognition throughout the 90s and early 2000s.
The Baldwin School is the alma mater of an impressive list of accomplished women, including Kinney Zalesne, the Manager of Corporate Strategy at Microsoft; Jody Gerson, the CEO of Universal Music Publishing Group who recruited and signed pop artist Lady Gaga; and Anne Cabot Wyman, Pulitzer prize winner and two-time finalist who became the first female editorial editor of the Boston Globe.
History and Mission. The Baldwin School. . 3/25/2018. https://www.baldwinschool.org/page.cfm?p=510. Official School History Timeline
Public Domain Photo of the Baldwin School in 2010 by Smallbones of Wikimedia Foundation