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LFS Then and Now

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.

Lansdowne Friends School students gather in front of the school building in 1902.

The matter of the education 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.

Minutes from 100+ years of Lansdowne Friends School

January 26th, 1905

Monthly Meeting’s answer to the Fourth Query

A school is conducted under the care of teachers in membership
with us and superintended by a Committee of Friends, though not
appointed by the Monthly or Preparative Meeting.

The Committee appointed in Tenth month to prepare our report on
the subject of education submits the following: ‘There are twenty-
two children of a school age, members of Lansdowne Monthly
Meeting of Friends. 18 of this number are in attendance at the
Lansdowne Friends School.’

June 29th, 1905

The following communication was received from the Lansdowne
Friends School Association by direction of its Meeting dated 6th
month 28 1905:

‘The Board of managers of the Lansdowne Friends School
Association was directed to lay before the Lansdowne Monthly
Meeting the proposition that the property and management of the
school be turned over to the Meeting by this Association, if the
Meeting is willing to accept it, and the Board was authorized to take such steps as may be necessary to transfer the same to the Monthly
Meeting, if way shall open therefore.’

July 7th, 1905

The joint Committee of men and women Friends appointed at our last
meeting […] present the following report:

‘The committee appointed to consider the proposition of the Lansdowne
Friends School Association to turn over to the Monthly Meeting the School
building situated on the Meetinghouse grounds, with furniture, books, etc. on
condition that the monthly Meeting maintain and conduct a school there as a
Monthly Meeting school, all met. […] The minutes of the school’s last annual
meeting and the report of their treasurer were read. The latter showed an
obligation of $550.00 on the original building, borrowed from the Lansdowne
and Darby Savings Fund and Trust Company. It also shows a deficit of
$930.00 on the addition made to the School House last year; this amount has
also been borrowed from the Trust Co., secured by pledges of some members
of the Association to annual payments of $10.00 each sufficient to cancel the
debt in five years from 10 th month 1904.


At a subsequent meeting of the Committee […] the subject was carefully
considered in all its bearings, and they were unified in the belief that it would
be to the best interest of the Monthly

Meeting to accept the offer of the Association and take charge of and carry on
the School. Should this meet the approval of the Monthly Meeting, we would
recommend that a judicious Committee comprised of men and women
Friends be appointed for three years, the terms of one third of them to expire
each year, to have the care and management of the School, they to appoint a
treasurer to have charge of the School funds, and that they be kept separate
and apart from the funds of the Monthly Meeting. The Committee shall be
known as the School Committee and they are to report to the Monthly
Meeting in the ninth month of each year.

August 1905 School Committee

C. Wilfred Conard

Walter Haviland

Thomas Satterthwaite

John Way

Samuel Pennell

Samuel Jones

Elizabeth Woolman

Helen Hopkins Jones

Elizabeth Maris

Lydia Moore

Annette G. Way

Rachel Carter

September 24th, 1906

The first regular meeting of the Committee was held 9/15/1905, at
which John Way was appointed Chairman, Rachel A. Carter,
Secretary, and Samuel W. Jones, Treasurer. […] Sub Committees
were appointed as following: Household, Property, and Visiting.

Last year two rooms in regular use, besides a kindergarten,
comprising in all six grades. Fifteen children had desks in the upper
room and twenty-six in the lower room, or a total enrollment of 41
pupils for the year. Besides the three regular teachers, Louisa M.
Jacob, our Principal, Mary Weatheraux, teacher of the higher
grades and Sarah T. Bentley, kindergarten, a Gymnasium teacher,
Anna B. Lily, gave most successful one a week to two sections of the


In the way of pleasant outings, a camp supper was held for the
children of the upper grades in the fall; later the entire school went
on a chestnuting excursion. A class of children was taken to
Philadelphia to visit the Academy of Natural Sciences and the old
State House; and at the close of the School a picnic at Naylor’s Run
ended the outings.

September 24th, 1908

Enrollment = 59 (20 of whom are Friends)
12 in Kindergarten
17 in Primary
17 in Intermediate
18 in the upper grades

Besides the regular subjects, drawing and gymnastics were included in the
course of study, special teachers being engaged for this purpose. Nature was,
as usual, a feature of our school. The gardens were a great success this year
and raised much enthusiasm. There were 15 gardens in all. […] A class of six
was graduated in 6th month; four of those entered Westtown Boarding School.
One day in the 11th month was taken by our teachers as a Visiting Day. This
enabled them to see other schools in operation.

September 1909

The nature study was of much interest. The early morning bird
walks, conducted by our Principal, proved especially interesting.


The finishing of the interior walls of the halls and classrooms during
the past months was a great improvement. […] As the children
contributed their share of the proceeds from the Kellogg bird
lecture toward defraying the expense of the decoration [for the
school], they have taken particular interest in the papering and
wainscoting and have endeavored to keep them in good condition.