The school originally opened under the name of English High School which only lasted until 1825. The school would become Phillip's Grammar School in 1844, which was named after the first mayor of Boston and the father of an abolitionist. The Grammar School mainly educated wealthy children and became one of the best schools in the area. In contrast, the Smith School was home to the black children of the area and wasn't able to give its students an equal education to that of the Phillip's Grammar School. In 1855, Massachusetts passed a law that integrated schools and Phillip's Grammar School became one of the first schools in Boston to house both white and black children.
In 1863, the school would once again undergo change when it moved to a new building on Phillips Street . It was once again renamed, and this time, it became the Wendall Phillip School. Wendall Phillip was the son of the first mayor of Boston and an abolitionist. The school would once again make history as Elizabeth Smith, daughter of John Smith, started teaching at Phillips School and became one of the first African American teachers to teach at an integrated school. Today the school stands as the third site of the Black Heritage Trail in Boston.