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A School at Lansdowne ~ 1902

from A Short History of Lansdowne Friends Meeting and Lansdowne Friends School, compiled in 1977 by John Brumbaugh, on the occasion of the 150th Anniversary of the Meeting and 75th Anniversary of the School 

One of the original concerns of Friends on the organization of the Society, was for the education of their children, both boys and girls. 

Monthly and Quarterly Meetings and the Yearly Meeting early admonished Friends to give attention to the matter, and to establish schools wherein there was need for them.  As a consequence we find schools established by Monthly Meetings and by some preparative meetings throughout our area.  Nearer home, the [school] at Darby had grown to a two story building on Darby Road adjoining the Friends burial ground.

old black and white photo

The matter of the eduation of its children was an early concern of our [Lansdowne] re-organized Meeting. 

The smallness of Meeting, and the fact that Darby Meeting retained possession of the one Monthly Meeting School, required an early decision for the future.  After labor over the problem, on February 10, 1831, the committee on education reported that, because of fewness of numbers (of children) and their being widely scattered, it is impractical to establish a school.  We note that, in 1880 , there were only about 20 buildings and 100 residents within the present [Lansdowne] Boro limits.

During the last decade of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th, the movement of Friends from the city to the suburbs was felt strongly in Lansdowne and there was a growing desire that a school be set up.  Annette G. Way related that the first concrete suggestion of which she had knowledge was made by Edward and Lydia Moore, who had recently built a new home on Stratford Avenue.  They called at the home of John and Annette G. Way on Wycombe Avenue and formally laid the matter before them.  [...]  Under the strong leadership of John and Annette G. Way, the movement took form and an organizing committee was formed to raise funds for the necessary building.  The plan was for a modest one-story, two-room building, sufficient to house the primary grades.  There was no money among Lansdowne Friends and so an appeal was made to Friends in other localities.  All responded generously, and soon the needed $3,000.00 was raised.  Nothing was done until the money was in hand, and nothing was borrowed.

One difficulty nearly wrecked the plan. Jacob R. Elfreth, the much respected head of the meeting, insisted that it must be a Monthly Meeting School in accordance with the discipline, particularly since it was proposed to erect the school building on Monthly Meeting property.  But the Meeting (then a preparative Meeting) was a small one, and those interested in the enterprise included many non-member sojourners.  [...]  The difficulty caused no little concern, which was finally resolved by the organization of a "Lansdowne School Association: which, without further incident but with consent of the Meeting proceeded to the erection of the building.

The area to the north of the Meeting House seemed to be the most desirable area.  A short while before Isaac Garrett and Jacob Efreth had purchased land at the extreme north end of the plot and on it Isaac Garrett built a twin house, now #118 and #120 N. Lansdowne Avenue.  He and his wife Sara occupied the southern half.  This, together with the northern half was later purchased by the Meeting and School for their use.

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