On the first day of October 1848, a second class of 100 students was admitted.   During the first year all of the 195 boys except 31 came from Philadelphia.[1]  Throughout the first year, lack of sufficient water was a constant problem and additional city water had to be obtained.  On November 11, 1848 the College had its first disaster in that a break occurred in the reservoir of the Spring Garden Water Works, located just north of the north wall near 24th Street,  and its flood sweep away 125 feet of the northern wall  then crossed the campus and removed a similar amount of wall on the south side.   Shortly after the College opened, lighting of the buildings was converted from oil to gas for economic reasons.  The total cost of operating the College for the first year, including salaries of the staff, and all other expenses amounted to approximately $51,000 of which $22,000 was spent for clothing and subsistence for the children.

            Within two years, problems occurred again with the water system.  A new well was dug on the west side of building No.4.  This caused the construction of No.5 (later named Banker Hall) in 1850-51 as a service building to house four water storage tanks on its top floor.  The remainder of the building housed a laundry, bakery and special class rooms.  In  1856 part of it was converted to dormitories to allow for an increase in students, expected in 1857 to rise to 366.  In 1860 the building was again altered to add a gymnasium on its second floor. It was modified in 1877 to resemble the original four side buildings.  It was demolished in 1970.

            In 1851 the College was struck with an epidemic of dysentery that resulted in the death of four students.  The doctors,  after unsuccessfully attacking the problem, decided to send all the students home for three weeks.  This succeeded in terminating the epidemic.  It is interesting to note that in the early years a couple students died each year, but the causes where not mentioned in the reports.

            In 1854, the first students, 33 of them, were “bound out” as apprentices in various trades.  This was in keeping with the Will provision.  The students lived and trained with a master tradesman.  This program was considered so important that a Superintendent of Binding Out was established in the College, and his duties included a continuous check of the students’ achievements and living conditions.  Some of the trades that students were apprenticed to included: printing, iron working, farming, piano making, tanning and leather making, pharmacy, coopering, silver plating, merchandising, and architecture.  By year end 1855, eighty-four students were bound out as apprentices.

            In 1855, the Main Building library was expanded and today’s book cases were built. Henry W. Arey who was the Secretary of the College and also responsible for preparing the early yearly reports of the Board, was also the first librarian.  The book cases were built to house approximately 8-10 thousand books.  Talk began in 1855 about building a separate school building.

            In 1856 plans were being developed to divide some of the rooms in the Main Building (Founder’s Hall) to increase the number of classrooms.  The third floor of the Main Building was found to be useless during the summer months because the small fan-type windows were inadequate to ventilate the build-up of summer heat.  Additionally, the existence of the huge sky-lights in each room contributed to the accumulation of heat.

            James Hamilton Windrim, was admitted to Girard College in April 1850 and graduated in March 1856.  Like so many early graduates he was indentured to become an apprentice carpenter for John Torrey.  After several years, he became a draftsman and studied in the architectural offices of John Notman.  In 1871 he was appointed Architect for the Girard Estate and was responsible for the design and construction of many College buildings during the 1880’s expansion.  He was also the architect for the Masonic Temple in Philadelphia, the offices of the Pennsylvania Railroad, several banks, the Stephen Girard Building, the Academy of Natural Sciences and the Episcopal Hospital.  During President Harrison administration, he was appointed Supervising Architect of the United States Treasury Department.  His son, John , became an architect and was involved in the renovation of several Girard College buildings.[2]

            To provide improved medical care for the expanding student body, the Infirmary was built in 1858, 100 feet from where Banker Hall stood.  In the early years of the college, student deaths were not unusual.  A few occurred each year.  Six orphans died in 1857.  There was an epidemic of dysentery in 1851.  In 1863, cases of small-pox were detected.  In 1865, typhoid or spotted fever occurred.  Nearly all the dead were buried in the College burial grounds, then located just west of where the Armory stands today.  Also buried there, in 1863, was the first graduate to have been killed in the Civil War.  In 1880, their remains were moved to the newly purchased  Girard College plot in the Laurel Hill Cemetery.

            A reexamination of the Binding Out program occurred in 1860.  It was decided that some boys could be subjected to “some mechanical employment” within the college.  This was intended to save the school money and better prepare the students for outside apprenticeship.  Some of the older boys were assigned to work in the shoe repair shop:  Some worked with carpenters and other maintenance people.

            The first Girard College baseball team was formed in 1859 or 1860.  In later years several Girard graduates went on to play major league baseball.  Among them was Harry Davis, Donald Coogan, Ben Houser and Johnny Lush a pitcher with the Phillies who batted .400.

            The year 1861 saw the beginning of the Civil War and, like every war thereafter, it caused problems in Girard College.  Prices for supplies inflated so high that expenditures substantially exceeded appropriations.  Economies in every facet of the school were implemented.  As students were bound-out, their vacancy was not filled.  Some of the employees were released.   Eighteen percent inflation occurred mostly in clothing and food.  Many original Girard students were of the age that they become involved in what was called a “causeless and unjust rebellion”.  To prepare the students for the war, four companies of 60 students each were formed and drilled almost daily.  This began the  high school Battalion Corp. 

            The Board report for 1862 is most interesting, frank and sharply critical of Dr. Allen’s management for the previous 12 years.   Richard Vaux who had recently been appointed President of the Board of Directors alleged that money was being extravagantly spent unwisely on too few orphans.  He was of the opinion that more attention should be addressed to a “polytechnical” education that would better prepare the orphans to enter the real world.  He believed that the past Boards should have been increasing the student population more rapidly. He blamed most of the problems on the ever changing Board members and mentioned that there had been 75 different members in the 14 years since the school opened.  He presented data to prove that the expenses per student would be less if the number of “inmates” were increased.  In 1862, even with a war-time economy, it cost $73,247 to maintain 459 student, whereas in 1857 it cost $92,340 to maintain 295 students.  He described the school this way:  “The College, out-buildings, and grounds, which comprise what is called Girard College, are monuments of munificent liberality, unrestricted expenditure, and the influence of a cultivated aesthetics.”  He believed that placing youth in that environment would create an artificial impression of life after Girard College.  He mentions that Lawrence Todd, a citizen of Illinois[3] who died May 2, 1859 leaving Girard College $18,554 and that the funds were still not available because of inaction on the part of the City.   On the last day of 1862, Dr. Allen voluntarily resigned as President, probably because of the opinions expressed by Richard Vaux, Board President.  Along with Allen’s departure, several other staff positions were changed.  Henry Arey was and remained Secretary for the Board, and he was named President Pro Tem of the College. On May 10th, 1863 Major Richard Somers Smith was selected President of Girard College.  He was a West Point graduate and later professor at the Academy.

            The number of students remained around 300 from 1851 to 1857,  then 300 to 400 during the 1858-1862 period. In 1863 there were 500.

            In 1863 a  consultant’s review of the College recommended that some of the responsibilities of the Board be transferred to the President of the College and suggested that there was too much interference in the operation of Girard College on the part of the City Councils.  The report stated that “to make the College effective to the highest degree, some mode must be devised by which the politics of the city shall cease to influence the choice of Directors.  In other words, Girard College must be taken out of politics.” Another complaint alleged that too much of the earnings from of the Estate were going into other city projects when they should be used to expand Girard College. The critic wanted the Board to control the estate’s finances, not the City Council’s.

            A professor of Industrial Science was created in 1864 to establish and teach Industrial Polytechnics.  This was done to improve the students’ fitness for apprenticeship.  The polytech education included physics, chemistry, anatomy and mathematics as it applied to mechanics.  The students were also taught typesetting, printing, bookbinding, stereotyping, carpentry, daquerreo typing, photography, electroplating and telegraphy.

            In 1864 the list of applicants increased because the Civil War was creating many orphans. To accommodate the additional applicants, a suggestion was made to build another building to house a general assembly, dining rooms, lavatories, and cooking facilities.  The war ended before this was accomplished and in 1865 a post-war depression occurred, and expenses where such that admittance of new students was suspended.  This suspension lasted for two years, and during that period the number of students dropped from 563 to 509.

            A typical Girard College day in 1865 was described as follows.  “After being thus thoroughly cleansed, they are taken to breakfast.  This consists of tea with bread and butter, to which, during the winter, a relish is added of either hash or salt mackerel.  Coffee is given them for breakfast on Wednesday mornings.  After breakfast, the household is summoned to the chapel, where devotional exercises are had, appropriate to the commencement of the day.  At about eight o'clock, the work of instruction begins in the schools, and continues until ten, when a recess for a quarter of an hour is given, after which instruction is renewed, and continues until twelve o'clock.  The pupils are then allowed recreation in the playgrounds until half-after twelve, when the hour for dinner arrives.  Care has been taken so to vary this repast as that, whilst the pupils are fed with good and substantial food, it shall be afforded them in such variety as shall best contribute to their growth of body and general healthfulness.  They are furnished with meat every day and two kinds of vegetables.  On Mondays and Wednesdays roast mutton is provided for the older lads, and stewed or fricasseed pieces of the same kind of meat for the smaller boys, and on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays they have roast beef.  On Friday they are provided with corned beef and coffee, and on Sunday with the same kind of beef, cold.  This fare is varied during the winter by soup on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  On Sunday there is always added to the dinner a dessert of ripe fruit whilst in season, or, in default of that, of stewed fruits, and occasionally through the week a plain rice pudding, or mush and hominy, with molasses, is given in addition to the meats and vegetables.  Now and then, too, a condiment in the shape of something sour, is afforded, by way of relish, as an anti-scorbutic.   After dinner, there is another period of recreation until two, when school commences and continues until four, with an intermission of a quarter of an hour at three, and at four o'clock the labors of professors and teachers terminate, except as to some of their pupils who are retained, either by reason of misconduct in the schoolroom, or deficiency in learning, their lessons until the allotted time of detention has expired.  At four, the pupils and household again assemble in the chapel to thank God for the mercies of the day, and to implore his protection during the night.  These chapel exercises are accompanied by reading the Bible and singing hymns.  The evening meal consists of bread and tea after which they retire to their section rooms for study.” [4]



            Major Richard S. Smith left the Presidency in 1867 and was replaced with the former President, Dr. Allen.  Although he was a President, his portrait is not in the President’s Room.  The details are in a badly worn book, dated October 1867.  It contains 567 pages of testimony before the City Council by members of the Board of Directors, then a body of the City Council.  The City Council was apparently prompted by newspaper accounts given by parents of Girard College students and an allegation that Smith was fired  because Dr. Allen wanted to return to the Presidency, but it apparently was done by Board members not of the same political party as Smith and because of his inappropriate actions.

            From the testimony, it appears that Smith ran Girard College like a reformatory  school.  He was fired for excessive brutality and torture and apparently it was allowed to continue because certain Board members of his political party concealed it until some of the incidents were described in the newspapers.  Here are some of the revelations brought out in the testimony.   Beginning in 1850, the College had a “lock-up” room where misbehaved children were put.  The first location was on the third floor of the new No. 5 (Banker Hall) and in Smith’s time it was moved to the third floor of No.2 (Bordeaux Hall).  In both cases the room had no furniture, a mattress on the floor, no heat, a table bowl in the corner to be used as a toilet, and the ventilation was poor.    In Smith’s days, the so-called “bad kids” were placed in this lock-up for between several hours to three months and they were fed only bread and water twice a day.   One boy was left in there for three winter months and he had to have parts of his toes removed because his feet froze.   According to the testimony, the room was often used, even for minor infractions.

            Smith often used a whip to severely flog  students.  There were incidents that the strip  marks were seen by the parents when the students went home. The fired Matron also used the whip.  During Smith’s time there were frequent “run-aways,” and when they were caught they were severely flogged.  Three boys were caught after having had a sexual affair with a servant for several months, and it was exposed only when the girl appeared pregnant.  It was reported that the girl tantalized the boys into the affair.  Two of the boys were discharged, and the third was put in the lock-up for several weeks.

            When Smith became President in 1863, the Civil War was still going on.  Several boys ran away to join a regiment that was forming north of the College.  Smith found the boys and then  had them discharged from the unit.  Then they were returned to the College and flogged.   When the Board refused to take action against the boys, he discharged them from the College.    One boy had been in the Infirmary for several weeks and the medical people acknowledged that the boys had a serious malady and was too weak to walk.  Smith entered the Infirmary, forced the boys out of bed to attend a Chapel service in Founder’s Hall; the next day the boy died.

            It was required that the President teach a class and also preside at daily Chapel services, and Smith did neither. After the war it was customary to raise the flag to commemorate certain events associated with the war.  When the Gettysburg Cemetery was dedicated,  it was a special day for flag raising, but Smith refused to raise the flag.

            Without the consent of the Board members,  Smith discharged several boys and had them placed in the House of Refuge, a prison for juveniles.  One witness testified that if the boys were asked, they would reply that they would rather be in a House of Refuge then be in Girard College.

            It is believed that the politics involved with the resignation of Dr. Allen and the hiring and firing of Smith was a major factor that led to the creation of the permanent Directors of City Trusts in 1869, two years after Smith was fired.


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            In 1870, the older students enjoyed “excursions to the Girard Coal Lands and mines in Schuylkill County and to New York”.  That year there were “ five professors, two instructors in music and eleven female teachers. The professors were assigned as follows:  1. Natural Philosophy and Chemistry:  2. History, Rhetoric, Moral Philosophy, and the Constitution of the United States:  3. Latin, French, and Spanish:  4. Mathematics:  5. Drawing, Writing, and Book-keeping.”

            In 1871 plans were developed  to separate the Lodges to make the gates as wide as Corinthian Avenue, and plans were developing to build more buildings and  increase the student population.  The first consideration to convert No. 1 (Allen Hall) from a staff residence to student dormitories was suggested this year and a family plan of residence was being  considered whereby 30 to 40 boys would be placed under the care of a husband and wife.

            In 1872, Mr. William Kirkpatrick, a prefect for the highest section, was  the first alumni to work in the College.   Also in this year, another graduate became the President of the Select Council of the City.  A Grand Jury visited the College and complained that considerable wear and tear was evident from the 25 years of use.  The Board complained that the lack of maintenance was due to the continuous changing of the Board under the old system.  Since the College had opened, 1761 orphans had been admitted.

            Owing to the loss of ground in the construction and changing of Girard Avenue the total enclosed acres became 40, five acres less then the original purchase.  In 1873, attempts were made by the city to cut 22nd Street  through the College’s.  A dispute, lasting two years, between the city, state and the Estate was finally concluded after the lawyers for the Estate argued that cutting through the College would be a breech of the Will, and since Girard willed the state and city money to enforce the Will, if a street were put through the College, the state and city would be required to return that money.

            In 1873, consumption ( tuberculosis) was a significant health problem in the nation and the College.  The students were often checked for it because it had been determined that one third of their fathers had died from it.

            The College significantly changed in 1876.   The surplus income from the Estate’s investments was used to build “a cluster of buildings accommodate two hundred and fifty additional pupils in the primary department”.  The cluster of five buildings, designated No. 7, became the primary school, and it stood, until 1931, where today’s Junior School is.  Additionally, a two thousand seat Chapel (the old one completed in 1878) was being built.  During 1876 the boys made frequent visits to the United States Centennial Exhibition held in Fairmount Park, constructed around the remaining Memorial Hall.  Girard College was one of the advertised attractions.  “During the six months of the exhibition, 200,000 persons visited the College” and were impressed by the buildings, the boys and their religious training.  Many visitors climbed the steps to the roof of Founder’s Hall to observe a panoramic view of Philadelphia.

          After serving as Superintendent of Schools in Delaware, Henry Hanby Hay was hired as a teaching housemaster by Girard College in 1876, a position he retained for 40 years.  He was a renown writer, poet, scholar, educator, who wrote both “Hail Girard” and the “Farewell Song”.  He also wrote an “ode on Stephen Girard and five Christmas plays”.  He died Nov. 23, 1940 at the age of 92.[5]

            In 1877 the boiler-house, laundry and bakery building (still standing), near the north wall were completed and in operation. The Primary School Building (No. 7, the old Junior School ) was finished and occupied.  Its center building accommodated the officers and a dining room and each of the two buildings on both sides of the center accommodated 40 boys in family style living.  By year’s end, the student population was 754, and in 1878 that increased to 871.

            In 1878, the new gothic styled marble Chapel was finished and in use and contained a state-of-the-art organ built by Jardine & Sons of New York.   The cost of the new Chapel was $65,668.  Also, the front of building No. 5, Banker Hall, was reconstructed to match the four original buildings and add more living space.  This year there was an economic depression that caused the Estate to reduce rents and curtail expenses.  In spite of this, the house on the corner of Girard and South College Avenues was purchased to prevent “undesirables” from living near the entrance of the college.  Thereafter, the  Steward of the College lived in it for many years.

            The Girard Estate coal mines, on 20,000 acres of Schuylkill and Columbia counties in upstate Pennsylvania, became very productive in 1863.   According to the 1879 Board report, the first coal removed and sold commercially from the Estate’s mines occurred in 1863.  That year 40,788 tons were sent to market.  From 1863 to 1870, 2.7 million tons of coal were shipped.    In 1879, the amount marketed was 1,600,000 tons and the royalty from it was $463,644.   Three- fourths  of that was reinvested “in the real property in the City, so as not to diminish the fund upon which the support of the College must ultimately rely when these lands shall have been stripped of their mineral resources.”  The royalties were also used to build additional buildings and increase the number of students.  The number of students dramatically increased to 550 by 1870, 873 by 1880 and 1574 by 1890.  Six hundred applicants remained on the waiting list in 1890.  Table 1 shows the evolution and fate of the additional buildings.













































Construction of No. 8 (later Lafayette) building began in 1880 and was  completed in 1882.  It  accommodated another 160 students and housed a dining room for 1000 boys, and “joining kitchens, scullery and servants’ dining rooms”.  The dining building had adjacent wings for servants’ bed-rooms.    Additionally, the Infirmary was enlarged by the addition of a wing.  Until this year, students who died and whose remains were not claimed by their families, were buried on the campus.  Anticipating further expansion of buildings within the walls, a 5383 square foot burial plot was purchased in Laurel Hill Cemetery.  In 1880, Henry W. Arey, then Vice President of the College, resigned because of failing health.  He had served since 1849 as the Secretary of the College, then in 1869 he was elected Secretary of the Board of City Trusts and in 1877, when the new No. 7 was built,  he became the Vice President of the College.  Professor A. H. Fetteroft, of Andalusia College, replaced Arey and later became the College’s president.

               President Allen died on  August 29, 1882.  His funeral was held in the college Chapel and attended by the Board, officers of the college and the entire student body.  His body was then interned at Laurel Hill Cemetery, coincidentally near the Girard College plot.[6]  Mr. Adam.H. Fetterolf, then Vice President of the College was selected to replace Dr. Allen, effective January 1, 1883.  He was descended from a long line of Swiss and Dutch.  He was educated at Freeland Seminary, in Collegeville, where he mastered mathematics, Latin and Greek.  He received his graduate degrees from Lafayette College.  In 1881 he was appointed Vice-President of Girard College , serving under Dr. Allen.  This year, the remains of the twenty-two students buried on the College grounds were moved to the newly acquired burial plot in Laurel Hill.

Building No. 9, later named Good Friends, was completed in December 1884  at a time when there were four hundred and fifty-three applicants awaiting vacancies in the College.  Instruction in typewriting was introduced this year.  Because some apparent deterioration was noticed in the Main Building, Thomas U. Walter, the original architect for the construction of the College was employed to examine it and devise remedies.  The leaky roof was a major concern.  John Nolen, who was born in 1869, entered Girard College in 1878 and graduated in 1884.  In 1893 he received a degree of Bachelor of Philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania, then studied at the University of Munich, Germany, and from I903 to 1905 he studied for his Master of Arts at Harvard.  Nolen went on to fame in the field of city planning, a very important function in those days when cities were rapidly expanding and populations were increasing. Among some of his accomplishments were the development of the Agricultural School, Northampton, Mass., plans for institutions under control of the state of  Wisconsin; park systems for Madison, Wisconsin; Chattanooga, Tenn.; La Crosse, Wis.; comprehensive city plans and reports for improvements to Roanoke, Va.; San Diego, Cal.; Montclair and Glen Ridge, N. J.; Reading and Scranton, Pa.; Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and Wayland, Mass.  He also wrote a number of books about city planning.  He was also the landscape architect for the cities of Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Lock Haven and Scranton, Penna., Wayland, Mass. and St. Paul, Minn.

In 1885 a “smith shop” and foundry were constructed to be used to expand the students mechanical instruction.  On May 19, 1887, electric lighting was introduced to the campus. Since electricity was becoming popular, the College introduced an “electrical mechanics” course in 1890.  The President in discussing what a major part of the College curriculum  mechanical shop instruction had become said:  “The course in mechanical instruction now covers a period of five years, four years in wood-working, metal-working, foundry, mechanical drawing and electrical ............”.  The older boys were applying the learned skills assisting the college maintenance employees.

            Richard Thomas , artist and sculptor, left Girard College in 1889.  He attended Drexel Institute and Spring Garden Institute.  One of his first jobs was stone cutting and he studied under Edward Maine, a sculptor.  He competed to do the statue of Stephen Girard that later stood in City Hall Plaza and is now behind the Art Museum.  The model he used in attempting to get the commission was presented to the Alumni and stood for many years in the Alumni clubhouse.  Before long, he had “one of the finest stone cutting shops on New Jersey (Bordentown)” and was sought after for sculpturing jobs.  His last work was the Stephen Girard  Chronological Tablet which was unveiled in Girard College on Founder’s Day 1912. [7]

Another school building , a Middle School, was being built behind the Chapel and   scheduled to be completed by February 1891.  Nearly all the construction money  came from the Lawrence Todd Fund.  Todd left the College $18,554 in 1869 and wisely invested, it increased to  $76,667 by 1890.   The building opened on April 14 1890 permitting the student body to be increased to 1574.  A tablet in memory of Todd was placed at the eastern entrance of the new middle school.

In 1890  a large greenhouse was also built near the Chapel.  This was the first year graduates received diplomas.  Until 1890 the College was very tolerant, reluctant to discharge “idle and incorrigible boys”.  This year that policy changed because it was felt that those boys interfered with the education of others.  With the new criteria in place, fifteen boys were discharged.   An epidemic of measles and whooping-cough occurred in 1890 and two boys died.  In 1890, the average age at admission was 7 years and 10 months and the average age at graduation was 17 years and two months.

In 1893, Col. Ward resigned as Commandant of the Cadet Corp, and he was replaced by Lt. Brooks, the first regular army officer detailed to the position by the Secretary of War.  With his assignment, the Corp received 500 new muskets and uniforms.  This year the College entered an elaborate, student made, display at the Chicago World’s Fair (Chicago’s World’s Colombian Exposition). It consisted of items made in mechanical training, views of the College, and products of the Girard mines.  When the Fair closed, the exhibit was presented to the Armour Institute in Chicago.

          Will D. Cobb, graduated in 1893.  For many years children sang  School days, good old golden rule days”.   Cobb wrote it in 1893 and it sold millions of copies in every country of the world.  On the inside cover of the song sheet he wrote, “Dedicated to Girard College Boys, Past, Present, and Future”. [8]

In 1894, Manual Training was expanded further with the addition of courses in plumbing and blacksmithing and the foundry was being expanded.  Electric lighting of all the buildings and grounds was completed this year and electric motors were being installed to operate laundry, vocational school, and facilities equipment.

In 1895 the main Library was still in today’s Founder’s Hall.  A card cataloging of the 15,000 books in the Library was nearing completion.  In addition, another thirteen thousand books were scattered throughout seventy-six school and section libraries.

The Battalion of 550 students staged, for the first time, a two week summer encampment  at Island Heights, New Jersey, next to Barneget Bay in 1895.  Living in tents, in military fashion, the experiment was very successful and lasted until 1905 when it was discontinued because of a mosquito problem.

On November 19, 1895, a plaque recognizing Stephen Girard’s involvement in the 1793 Yellow Fever epidemic, was unveiled in the Chapel.  It was a gift from Mrs. Ellen E. Girard, grand-daughter of Girard’s brother Jean Monbrun Girard.  She was also the widow of Jean Auguste Girard, the son of Girard’s youngest brother Etienne.  At that presentation it was announced that a movement had been was started to place a statue of Stephen Girard at City Hall on May 20, 1897. [9]

In 1897, the College had an epidemic of diphtheria and 119 cases developed.  Fortunately, only three boys died.  This epidemic convinced the Board that a larger Infirmary was necessary and without delay expansion began.  Students in the college came from 54 of the State’s 67 counties.

The Semi-Centennial Anniversary of Girard College  occurred in 1898.[10]  To begin the 50th anniversary of the opening of Girard College, special Chapel services were held on January 3, 1898.  Speeches were made by the Governor of Pennsylvania, Daniel Hastings, U.S. Congressmen  Thomas Reed and Marriott Brosius, Charles Warwick, Mayor of Philadelphia, Board members and Dr. Adam Fetterolf,  President of the College.  Board Vice President Joseph Caven, in his introductory remarks, summarized the past 50 years.  Here are few facts from President Fetterolf’s speech:  The first curriculum was adopted in 1853.  The number of pupils that passed through the College in fifty years was 5899.  The College grew from 100 students in 1848 to 1536 in 1898.








































In 1898 the war with Spain was concluding, and 27 graduates were in the Regular Army, 120 were in the Volunteer Army and 280 in the National Guards.  The experience of the College Cadet Corps prepared them well for the service.   The President of the College was urging the Board to erect a gymnasium.

Founder’s Day, 1900 was special in that it commemorated the 150th Anniversary of Stephen Girard’s birth.  Chapel speeches were made by New York Senator Depew and Major General Nelson Miles, Commander of the United States Armies.  The Board report for 1900 presents a listing of the “1183 trees (on the College grounds), 850 of which are inside, and 333 outside of the walls”.

In 1901, there were 1489 students in the College, a figure that had not changed significantly since 1890, when the new Middle School opened.  Considerable discussion about athletics in the College is included in this year’s Board report.  It mentions that about ten years earlier Rugby football had been played but was soon discontinued because of many accidents.  It was replaced with “Association football” which was so successful that other schools in the city were substituting it for Rugby.  The article also mention that the College boys excelled in baseball, running, jumping, hurdle races and skating, in season.  It concludes with this remark:  “Thanks to our ample swimming pond in the southwestern part of the grounds all our boys learn the art of swimming before they leave the Institution.”

John Albert Brown, entered the College in 1894 and graduated in 1901. He  started in the oil  business in California in 1911, became the Assistant manager of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey in Mexico and then its manager from 1919 to 1926.  From there he became head of the companies operation in the Dutch East Indies.  He returned to the U.S. in 1928 as Vice President of the General Petroleum Corporation and then became its President in 1930.  In 1934 he became Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Sacony-Vacuum Oil Company. [11] 

In 1903 the College Trade School was expanded.  Many students spent 24 hours each week learning the trades.  Stenography and typewriting were new courses.  The Mechanical School training had become so good and renowned that within the next few years the College was asked to exhibit some of the student projects at the Convention of the Eastern Manual Training, the Eastern Teachers’ Association Convention, the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, and the National Society for the Promotion of Industrial Education.

The College was a year long boarding school and the holidays for the students were the third Wednesday of January, April, and October, and Lincoln’s Birthday, Washington’s Birthday, Founder’s Day, Memorial Day, and Thanksgiving.  On the first Tuesday’s of March, June and December, mothers or close friends could visit for a half-day.  To help students return to their homes outside of Philadelphia, on holidays, the Pennsylvania and Reading Railroads gave them a special travel rate of one cent per mile.

The Battalion received new uniform and rifles in 1906. The first Hum basketball team was organized in 1906.  In 1907 the Board passed a resolution that would have permitted tunnels underneath the College to connect the streets north and south of the College, “provided the “work will in no wise interfere or damage....Girard College”.  Thankfully, it never happened. Each year the College attempts to make the summer vacation fun, educational and productive for those students who remained at the College.  In 1907, students were making pillowcases, embroidering linen doilies, making kites, making and sewing pen-wipers, knitting, making scrap-books, playing games, performing theatrics, reading and writing and publishing the  booklet, VACATION.  Additionally, 90 tents were set-up near the west end, and the older boys had a two week encampment.  Four hundred and fifty summer students attended a picnic at Willow Grove Park. 

In 1908, a tablet was unveiled in memory of Miss Mary Lynch, a former teacher and  librarian at the College.  The tablet  was inscribed, “Erected in loving memory by ‘her boys’.”  She had been connected with the College since it opened until her death in 1897.[12]

Dr. Adam H. Fetterolf’s reign as President of Girard College ended in 1910.  After 28 years of service, poor health caused him to resign effective January 31, 1910.  On February 25th, 1910, Dr. Cheesman E. Herrick, Principal of William Penn High School for Girls, Philadelphia, was selected to replace Dr. Fetterolf.  During Fetterolf’s long reign as President he drastically changed the appearance of the College with a construction program that was made possible by the royalties from the coal lands.  He built the Mechanical School, the Middle School, Good Friends, the foundry, bakery, and laundry buildings.  The educational instructions were improved.  Military Science and shop training were added, and the student body was increased.  The Board’s report for 1909 presents  many statistics and information about the achievements made during Fetteroft’s term, 1880 to 1910.  Some of the achievements listed are:  increased student population from 870 to 1510; construction of buildings 8, 9, 10; and the Mechanical School; changes in military and mechanical training; improved health system; courses of study revised, extended, and constantly improved.  Fetterolf, describing Girard College in his parting words, said this: “Its mission is glorious, its work one of the noblest under God---the making of men fitted for the duties of life and good citizenship, and it will always be a satisfaction to me to know that so many years of my life have been spent in a field where the opportunities for usefulness are so great and so numerous.”  Adam H. Fetterolf, President of Girard College from 1883 to 1910, died on December 1, 1912, at his home, 1936 Pine Street, Philadelphia.  He had been ill since his retirement.   Fetterolf was born at Perkiomen,  Montgomery County, on November 24, 1841.

Girard College had come a long way since its opening in 1848.  Five Presidents had visited the College:  General Grant, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Rutherford Hayes and Benjamin Harrison (and in this century Harry Truman).  More glory would follow under a new aggressive, progressive educator, and a caring “father” figure.


[1]George W. Jackson was the first boy to graduate, and he later became President of a bank in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania.  Source: Steel & Garnet October 1942.

[2]Source:   Steel & Garnet March 12, 1912

[3]By 1890 Todd’s funds had increased to  $76,667.   He was a mariner from Denmark, who became a farmer in Illinois, and  apparently he admired the Girard legacy.  He was not a Hummer.  He died in 1859.  His money was used to construct the Middle School and later consideration was given to naming it the Todd Building.  A plaque to memorialize Todd is in the Girardian Room of the College.

[4]President’s Report for 1865

[5]Steel & Garnet November 1940

[6]Appendix C of the 1882 Board  report describes in detail the ceremonies associated with his funeral.

[7]Steel & Garnet May, 1912

[8]Steel & Garnet  January 1940

[9]That statue was dedicated in 1897 in the walkway of City Hall.   It was later moved across the street fearing that its weight would harm the subway.  Again it was moved where it stands today behind the Art Museum overlooking Boat House Row.

[10]Its activities are detailed in a separately published book of that title.

[11]Steel & Garnet January 1936.

[12]The tablet is on the wall in Founder’s Hall and many of us wondered who she was.


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Thomas J. DiFilippo