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The Baldwin School – founded 1888
The Baldwin School
701 Montgomery Avenue
The original Bryn Mawr Hotel or Keystone Hotel, as it was also known, was built in 1871. This grand summer resort was constructed by the Pennsylvania Railroad, and was located in the countryside just north of the station. The four-story masonry building was designed by Joseph Miller Wilson. The hotel had 350 rooms, a fashionable polychromatic slate mansard roof, and an enormous veranda. The hotel's amenities included: gas lights, bath tubs, the first elevator on the main line, a "ten-pin alley," first quality mattresses and one bathroom on every floor. Unfortunately, the hotel was destroyed by a fire in 1887.

A second Bryn Mawr Hotel was built on the site in 1890. This new, four-story, granite structure was designed by acclaimed architect Frank Heyling Furness, of Furness, Evans & Co. The Hotel was inspired by the Chateau de Pierrefonds, a 16th century French chateau, and contained the latest technologies, including steam heat and electric light. From 1896 to 1913 the hotel hosted its own annual horse show that drew high society Philadelphians.

In 1888, Miss Florence Baldwin and her two sisters opened the Baldwin School with a vision: to provide an educational experience that would prepare young girls to be successful in the realms of higher education. The first class consisting of 13 girls, was conducted in Miss Baldwin's mother's home, which was located on the northwest corner of Montgomery Ave and Morris Avenues. Their mission was to prepare young women to enter Bryn Mawr College. The school quickly prospered and they outgrew the available space in the house.

In 1897, Miss Baldwin contracted with the owners of the Bryn Mawr Hotel, to lease classroom space in the hotel. The agreement stipulated that the school could take over the hotel during the off-season during the fall, winter and spring. The school would be allowed to use the buildings and grounds, including the ice house and electric power facility. In return, Miss Baldwin agreed to vacate the premises by the first of May and promised not to bolt the desks to the floor of the dining room. The arrangement worked nicely for 16 years with the curriculum adjusted to the accommodate the abbreviated school year.

As the New Jersey shore became the popular summer location for the Bryn Mawr Hotel clientele and reservations declined, the hotel closed. In 1913 a new agreement was made between Miss Baldwin and the hotel for a year-to-year lease. Miss Baldwin made the permanent conversion of the hotel into a school in 1922, at which time the owners gave notice of their intention to terminate the lease agreement in 1924. Miss Baldwin located a 30 acre parcel of land, one mile away in Gladwyne, and planned a new campus and building design. The Alumnae Association optimistically hoped to sell bonds to their members to finance the development.

The Baldwin School
The sale did not go well and the fact that the school was trying to end its lease on its own terms, angered the hotel owners enough that they offered to sell the hotel to the Shipley School, at a bargain price. Shipley collegially notified Miss Baldwin of the owners' offer. At this point H. Gates Lloyd, a local banker, came up with a bold plan to try a take over bid of the hotel owners holdings in the company. He arranged for the school to quickly buy out the individual shareholders of the company. There was only one holdout who refused to sell his 20 shares. He insisted that Miss Baldwin come to his house, so he could tell her in person that he would never sell his shares. When she arrived the gentleman told her that he had decided to give them to her instead. This is the first recorded act of philanthropy to the school. The Baldwin School remains an independent school for girls from pre-kindergarten through grade 12.


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