Alarmed that inflation would deplete the Trust, and concerned that much of the facility was showing wear and needing repair, Dr. Odgers, in 1947, appointed a committee of key staff to study all aspects of Girard life.  The result was the implementation of economies that would severely affect the educational quality and living conditions, resulting in a period of instability.   Using hindsight one wonders if these drastic changes were necessary even thought the statistics seem to justify the action.  Whereas, in 1940, it cost $1.7 million to operate the school with 1733 students, in 1947 it cost $2.1 million for 1297 students.  Between 1940 and 1949, the residuary of the Estate, after expenses, rose $13 million.  In 1949 the residuary, exclusive of real estate value, was worth $65 million.[1]  The yearly cost per student increased from $983 in 1940 to $1,521 in 1949.  The cost to operate the school increased only 14 percent in 9 years, an amount considerably less than the national inflation rate.

Dramatic changes occurred in 1949 probably the result  of the Committee’s recommendations.  Changes were made in the interest of economy.  The organizational structure revision led to a reduction in staff.  Several key people, each with at least 28 years of service, retired and their positions were either abolished or organizationally merged.  Some of the positions abolished included the Superintendents of Household, and Playgrounds, the Principals of both Elementary Education and the High School and their assistants, the Senior Housemasters of the Junior School and House Group, the Principal of the Summer School and two teachers.  One Vice President replaced all the key positions.  The trend was to have more teaching Housemasters rather then the double staff for teaching and home life.

Eliminating so many positions surely must have affected the quality of education, the maintenance of the students, and the moral of the employees.   How was the educational quality hurt?  The reorganization caused the retirement of many respected employees with outstanding experience and qualifications as educators and childcare.  Miss Ethel A. Sipple, Assistant Superintendent of the Elementary School; Joseph A. Davis, Superintendent of Household; Dr. D. Montfort Melchior, Principal of the High School;  and William C. Sparks, Superintendent of Playgrounds and Recreation, retired.  They had respectively 28, 28, 35, and 33 years of service.  Their retirement was a major loss to the excellence of the school.  Looking back, one wonders if they retired voluntarily or in anticipation of organizational changes not acceptable to them.

In 1949, Saturday holidays were eliminated in favor of four  week-end holidays.  Battalion training was moved to Saturdays.  Vocational education was reduced.   A student social center opened in Founder’s Hall.  Sports competitions with other schools were reduced in favor of increased intramural sports.  The first television sets, five of them paid for by the alumni and the students, were placed in the upper houses.  The Alumni Fund for Girard College was established to “assist undergraduate activities and to aid younger alumni who desire to attend institutions of higher learning”.  The U.S. Army produced a film about the College and showed it in all the occupied countries as an example of a private enterprise under a democracy.  A statue of Lafayette, stored at the Second United States Bank, was given to the College to be permanently exhibited in Founder's Hall.  Two large pieces of marble fell from the capitals of Founder’s Hall causing extensive inspection and removal of other loose pieces. A commemorative plaque, made by the Foundry students, was placed near the east entrance of the high school between the two trees planted by President Truman.  The Estate was valued at $46 million plus $19 million in real estate and the expenditure for the College was $2.1 million to support 1304 students and applications for admittance decreased to the pre-centennial level.

Nineteen fifty marked the two hundredth anniversary of Stephen Girard’s birth and two members of President Truman’s Cabinet participated in a celebration that recognized Girard’s importance in American history.  Continuing the trend begun in 1949, additional cuts in staff and programs took place at the College.  Twelve of the seventeen upper housemasters were made teaching housemasters.

Alumni were doing well in furthering their education.  Two graduates won Fulbright Scholarships while two others were granted scholarships to study in England and Italy.  Ten graduates were attending medical school and seven were studying Law. Graduates were enrolled in all the service academies.  Eighty-nine graduates won full or part scholarships because of “high academic attainment”.  The top honor students of the senior class in two leading universities were Girard alumnus.  The Inez Walsh Fulton Scholarship Fund was established to enable a “Protestant graduate of Girard College” to attend a four year medicine course at Jefferson Medical College.

Dr. Odgers created the impression that the school was on the verge of financial bankruptcy.  In his 1951report he said, "This is a period of retrenchment, hedging and precaution."  Inflation and higher salaries increased costs and Odgers continued to search for additional ways to economize.  He considered eliminating vocational training.  He curtailed improvements to the facility.  Plans to renovate the oldest buildings and eliminate the dormitory set-up were set aside for lack of funds.  However, a new roof had to be installed on the Chapel.  To save $6,000 per year, he attempted to convert from using butter to using margarine, but a state law prohibited the use of margarine in institutions.  While physical improvements were being made to the Pocono camp, he decided to close it to save $20,000 a year, an amount  less than 1 percent of the college's expenses.  He abolished positions as the experienced staff continued to leave.  Summer school activities were curtailed and the students were encouraged to go home so that the school could reduce expenses.  The Board approached the court, unsuccessfully, for permission to use some of the students' social security allotments to defray expenses at the college.

Although Dr. Odgers often bragged about the double curriculum wherein each student was trained both academically and vocationally, this year he wrote about its possible elimination to conserve teaching positions.  Whereas the State recommended one housemaster for every ten students, the College had one for every fifty.  In each year, from 1947 to 1951 the college operated at a deficit.  The College spent, in 1951, $2.3 on 1303 boys.  Girard College was changing rapidly and not for the better, while the Board at this time was headed by a former Girard College student, John A. Diemand.

The class of 1930 donated thirty-eight books to the Alumni Memorial Room, dedicated as a memorial to their classmate Reed Lee McCartney, who lost his life fighting in the Philippines in World War II.  It was known that 178 Alumni were in the Armed Services and so far at least four lost their lives fighting in the Korean Conflict.

The austerity movement continued into 1952.  The administration was hoping to hold the yearly operating cost below two million dollars.  Dr. Odgers commented, “If cuts in expenditures had not been made over the last five years, the annual budget of the College would be approximately a half-million dollars higher.”  Additional programs and positions were eliminated.  “ Services in areas such as music, corrective gymnastics, vocational education, art, library experience, social programs, and guidance have been reduced.”  Class sizes were increased to at least thirty students.  The third curriculum that was established to accommodate the slow learners was eliminated.  Foundry was eliminated as a course of study.  It was decided that the January 1953 class would be the last to graduate in January.  The House group dining facilities were closed and combined in the Junior School.  The student trips to Washington were eliminated.  Instead of buying tailored clothing, they saved $18,000 per year by purchasing "off the rack."  Since 1946, the total employees were reduced from 570 to 445 and 27 teaching positions had been eliminated.  A major fire in Banker Hall occurred resulting in significant damage that cost approximately $10,000 to  repair.

In 1954, as expenses continued to rise so Dr. Odgers was seeking additional savings. To save money he discontinued publishing The Girard News and The Girard Magazine.  He was still pushing for a single staff of teaching Houseparents in spite of the fact that the concept was increasing staff turnover.  The effect of the austerity was apparently discouraging some parents and many students were leaving before graduation.  In 1954, of the 129 students that left, only 67 graduated while the remainder left at the request of either the parent or the school.  Karl Friedmann, who later became President, was appointed Director of Secondary Education.  Having eliminated January graduations there was now only one Senior class and the class was too large to fit into Allen Hall so some students had to be unhappily housed in Bordeaux Hall.  The four murals in the Director’s Room were again restored with the assistance of  Herry Marceau, Associate Director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

On December 1, 1954,   Dr. Odgers, after being  President of the College for 18 years, resigned to become Chief Administrative Officer of Bucknell University.  Why did he leave?  Was it due to the financial constraints placed on him by the Board?  Perhaps he realized that his organizational changes significantly damaged the excellence of the College.  Surely, he recognized that the quality of the education had declined with the retirement of so many outstanding teachers and staff.  Girard College was not competing satisfactorily with other institutions in attracting a high quality staff.  When he became President, the student population was nearly seventeen hundred and when he resigned, it was down to 1157.  Dr. Odgers inherited, in 1936, perhaps the finest private educational institute in the country, but after 18 years he left a declining school heading for dramatic controversial changes.

Stephen Girard, in his Will, stated that he wanted to educate as many children as the funds would allow.  Beginning in 1955 student enrollment declined nearly every year.  Was it because Girard College was no longer an attractive substitute for home life?  Perhaps the number of available “white orphans” was declining as people were living longer.  Surely, some of the decline noted in the following table was purposeful, intended to control cost.












































In 1955, Dr. E. Newbold Cooper was appointed President and Mr. Karl Friedmann the Vice President.  Dr. Cooper continued the goal of a single staff where every house parent was also a teacher.  This created recruitment problems.  How many outstanding educators were willing to live on campus with or without their families?  Hoping to attract applicants, the College built apartments for their families and in 1955 there were 15 families living on the campus.  Children of the teachers had to attend the Philadelphia school system or encounter the expense of a private school, neither a desirable option.  Therefore, by pursuing the single staff concept, the recruitment base of teachers was practically restricted to candidates who were either unmarried or without a family.10  Although the apartments were decent, this was not attractive living conditions and rapid turnover of staff became a continuous problem.  The long-tenured staff, mostly hired by Dr. Herrick,were rapidly retiring.  Typically, in 1956, five of the retirees had a total of 204 years of service.  Dr. Harry C. Banks, renowned organist, choirmaster, teacher, and writer of music, who was associated with the College for forty years, was among the retirees.  Additional organization changes were made that involved the Office of Admissions and Student Relations, and the Department of the Business Manager.  Dr. Copper complained about the deteriorating conditions in some of the buildings and a need for additional funds to correct the conditions.

Dr. Melchior died on January 16, 1956 and Dr. Herrick died the following month on February 27, 1956. In 1956, the Salk vaccine, used to prevent polio, was first used this year but only with the consent of the guardians.  The Alumni Association was paying the expenses of publishing the College paper and magazine and in the last seven years the alumni contributed $113,395 for programs not covered by the College budget.  The College received $16,000 worth of food from the government’s Surplus Food Program and $12,680 from the government’s School Luncheon Program.  By the end of 1956, the student population had declined and insufficient numbers of new students caused sections of the Junior School to be closed. 

The competitive architectural drawings for the construction of Girard College were rediscovered in 1956. “These sketches and plans were stored in a cabinet in the arches above the third floor in Founder’s Hall from 1885 until October 1956, and to all intents and purposes were lost.”  The drawings were first found during the move of the Board of City Trust from the First Bank of the United States to the Stephen Girard Building on 12th Street.  They were then turned over to the College and stored in Founder’s Hall.  Under the guidance of Miss Erchinger, Head Librarian, the newly found drawings were examined, data collected, and viewed by scholars from several universities who considered the find a “notable event”.  They were then loaned to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania for long-term care.

In 1957, the student population went below 1000 for the first time in seventy years.  Lafayette building was closed as living quarters but continued to be used as a meeting place for the Scouts.  Mrs. Florence I. Poole, a great-grandniece of Stephen Girard, presented Girard’s birth and baptism papers to the Alumni Association who in turn gave them to the College.  The College was infected with an Asian flue epidemic that resulted in 145 cases

Dr. Cooper’s reign as President lasted only two years.  Unfortunately, during the summer of 1957, while vacationing in Maine, he died from a severe heart attack.  He devoted 35 years to the College and was credited with having developed an outstanding Elementary School program over which he was the Principal before becoming President.  Karl R. Friedmann, Vice President, Director of Secondary Education, and head of the high school Mathematics department, was appointed acting President.  Mr. Friedmann was born in Reading in 1903, attended Reading High where he was a varsity athlete.[2]  He graduated in 1921, entered Dartmouth, played varsity basketball and received his B.S. in 1925.  Then, in order, he taught at Rutgers Prep, Friends School in Wilmington, and Peddie School.  In 1932 he received his M.S. degree from Columbia.  He came to Girard in 1935 as an instructor of Mathematics, then became head of the department, Director of Secondary Education, and in 1955 Vice President. 

In 1958 Mr. Friedmann, commented “As the number of students has decreased, the staff size has been curtailed at an even more rapid rate, especially this year.”  The result was increased dormitory section sizes and classes.  Ernest Cunningham, graduate of the 1891 class, fifty year employee of the College, and author of the outstanding book, Memories of Girard College, died on Feb. 15, 1958.  The soccer team concluded a 13 and 0 undefeated season and was hailed as one of the best soccer teams in the past 20 years.  The Library received a book collection that belonged to Dr. Cooper and a $400 memorial gift on behalf of Percy Miller, late head of the Science Department.  The Alumni Association continued to pay for many school activities: i.e., Washington trip, circus shows, Atlantic City trip, the three school publications, special art and music lessons, scouting equipment, performance rewards, tickets to plays, recreational activities and the Swing Band.  During the past few years only approximately 110 applications for admission were received, far below the 300 received during the late 1930s early 1940s.  The cost per student was $2176.

Mr. Karl R. Friedmann was officially appointed President in 1959, and inherited significant problems and challenges.  His first President’s Report had these words which were similar to those used by Dr. Odgers ten years ago, “The year 1959 was a period of retrenchment and reorganization, brought about by a decreasing pupil enrollment and a need for more economical operation.”  Nine additional staff positions were eliminated.  The House Group buildings and half the dormitory area of Mariner Hall were closed,  Mr. Friedmann complained that economizing had caused significant “deterioration and obsolescence” in the older buildings and he urged the Trustees to establish a rebuilding program.  The facility was neglected and badly in need of repair and modernization.  No major changes had been made since 1933.  In 1945, the Board set aside $3.5 million to improve the physical plant, but by 1959 little had been accomplished and deterioration of the facility and equipment was obvious.

Although a decision to demolish Lafayette and Good Friends was made in 1945, it didn’t occur until 1960.  The decrease in students made both buildings unnecessary.  Renovation of the facility finally began in 1960, beginning with the high school and then the middle school and Bordeaux Hall in 1962.  Many physical improvements were made to the high school: ie.  new floors, painting, new window shades, blackboards refaced, lighting improved and a new physic laboratory built.  Windowsills and sashes were replaced in the original buildings. The columns of Founder’s Hall were treated to retard deterioration.  A program to repair all the roofs was begun.  The dining facilities were improved.  Lafayette Hall, built in 1881, and Good Friends, built in 1886, were demolished and the Student Center was moved back to Founder’s Hall.  Many of the improvements were financed from a million dollar endowment left to the College by a lawyer named Adrien Winston Vollmer.[3].  Other physical problems were being corrected throughout the College but major problems still existed in the old dormitories.  A salary increase was granted to the teachers, intended to reduce turn-over and attract new candidates.  Mr. Friedmann claimed that the new salary schedule placed Girard College among the leaders in the Philadelphia area.

By year’s end, 1961, nearly all of the outstanding staff hired by Dr. Herrick were gone.  William Jamison retired, having been associated with the College for 60 years.12  Lauris R. Wilson, Thomas B. McCloud, and Helen R. Craig retired after having worked at Girard for 41, 40, and 37 years respectively.  More retirements of quality educators were expected since one fourth of the staff would reach retirement age between 1964 and 1970.  Caswell E. MacGregor, an English teacher for twenty years, became the Principle of Secondary Education in 1962 when Dr. Reese E. Dukes resigned.  Replacing teachers became difficult.  Educators willing to live on campus were difficult to find.

Friedmann’s other problems related to changing social behavior and a quest for equal rights and individual identity.  The scholastic competence of the students was declining while their desire for more freedom was increasing.  Widows were not institutionalizing their children and although the College was considered superior to the public school systems, it was still not attractive.  Mr. Friedmann reported that social conditions outside were beginning to influence the Girard students who resented being kept to higher standards than those expected in their communities.  The new permissive society allowed smoking in school, changes in the dress code and more liberty and the Girard students wanted the same.  Significant disciplinary problems were occurring.  

In 1961 John Lander, who later became President of the College, was appointed Resident Head of the Foreign Language Department.  Recruitment of teachers willing to live at the College had became a major problem.  The school’s newspaper, the Girard News, received first place honors from Columbia University Press Association.

It was determined that 40% of the student’s fathers died from cardiovascular disease and a study revealed that these students had a “greater incidence of abnormal findings, such as obesity, high blood pressure, or other cardiovascular symptoms” then those students whose fathers died from other causes.

In 1962, the Middle School received extensive renovations.  Two units of the House Group (west end) were reopened.  Bordeaux Hall was renovated.  In the summer, 24 boys were sent to camps and the Alumni Association paid for the expenses.  This practice continued for many years.  About a third of the new students came from outside of Pennsylvania.  Student population declined to 740 and the per capita cost was $2937.   A new motion picture, “Living Legacy”, about the College was being distributed to publicize the Hum and hopefully attract candidates.

Improvements in the physical plant, that began in1960, continued into 1963 and the largest project this year was the installation of new parquet floors in the Armory.  Curriculum changes in both elementary and secondary education were made consistent with the modern teaching/educational changes made in public education.  The trend in education was to insert  “new” courses to replace what some educators considered out-of-date courses and thus began new math, new English, new science, new social studies and new world geography.  These “new” courses were creating educational confusion and frustration to the teachers and students.  Mr. Friedmann warned that the teacher shortage throughout the country would impact on the College’s ability to obtain qualified teachers to replace the large number of retires expected in the next few years.  By 1965 there was a nationwide teacher shortage because their salaries were relatively low.  The high-achieving scholars were becoming doctors, lawyers, scientists, engineers, and other professionals where salaries were higher.  The old dedicated teachers were being replaced with a not so dedicated new breed of teachers that believed in unionization and the rights and freedom of the student.          Classes were reorganized into a tract system, in 1964, whereby boys with similar IQ’s were grouped together.  The class of 1907  and an anonymous alumnus paid for 44 new band instruments.  Apparently caused by a student population decrease, the College’s athletic prominence was apparently over.  For the past few years the varsity teams lost more games then they won.  It was  becoming difficult to find teams to play because most of the school entered leagues and did not have open dates to accommodate Girard College.  The College was having difficulty finding girls to attend social affairs because “parents of the girls would not permit their daughters to enter the College neighborhood at night”.  Boys in the upper six grades visited the New York World’s Fair.  Forty-two of the seventy graduates entered college.  Mother’s Clubs were organized in the North, Northeast and South Philadelphia as well as Delaware County and New Jersey.  The number of students was 703 and the per capita yearly cost was rising rapidly; now at $3053.

In 1965, for the first time in the school’s history, six brothers whose last names were Michener were simultaneously attending.  In that same year, one hundred students left the school but only 57 graduated.  Thirty percent of the new students were being removed by their parents before they graduated.  Although Girard’s Will required that the students receive both vocational and academic education, the President was phasing out the double curriculum.  Challenges to the racial restrictions of Girard’s Will were gaining momentum.  The College and Stephen Girard received national attention and damaging publicity in 1965.  It was not a good year for the school’s image.  The litigation of the Will’s “white only” provision, discussed in Chapter 2, began and the College was receiving publicity that was derogatory, distorted, and unfair to the image of Stephen Girard and his College.  During the year, the school was picketed from May 1 to December 17th by members of the local NAACP and Negro churches and on the 215th birthday of Stephen Girard, Founder’s Day 1965, pickets surrounded the College.  Philadelphia police were stationed in and about the property but the students remained indifferent to their presence.  Although this was disturbing, the College continued most of its regular programs except it contributed to more mothers taking their sons home during the summer months and it probably contributed to the increase in the number of  students leaving before graduation.  Perhaps these events contributed to the large exodus of teachers at the end of the school year.  Nineteen resigned and seven retired.   An acute shortage of junior housemasters and the larger then normal turn-over of staff, primarily because of unacceptable in-house living conditions, created significant problems.

The tone of the annual President’s Reports for 1966 and 1967 reflects a somber, almost hysterical attitude.  Apparently he was becoming discouraged with the events that were out of his control.  Teacher turn-over was high due to poor salaries and living conditions, conditions that he reported to the Board, continuously.  Mr. MacGregor, head of secondary education, made an appropriate comment in his report.  He said, “It is possible to create an excellent school with mediocre buildings and an antiquated campus.  It is possible to give students an excellent education with old equipment and inadequate textbooks.  With the best of everything, however, there will be no sound education without good teachers.”  The students were changing, discarding old-fashioned ideals, and challenging their adults.  The President reported, “A minority of youth craves and demands the freedom to dress, speak, and behave unconventionally.  These young people challenge the school’s authority and influence upon manners and morals and, unfortunately, are too often supported or encouraged in the efforts by the parents.”  Some educators were likewise sympathetic.  An example of the students’ attitudes occurred in 1968, when they boycotted the school’s social functions to protest the strict dress code.

In 1967, the Physical Education department “was beset by personnel problems throughout most of the year” because of resignations and inability to find replacement physical education teachers.   It was becoming more difficult to sustain a interscholastic athletic program because of the few number of students in the upper classes. This year 105 left the College of which only 54 were graduates.

Dr. Friedmann retired in 1968.  The College changed significantly during his presidency.  The student population declined from 938 in 1959 to 643 at the end of 1968.  Money problems persisted.  Inflation caused operating costs to rise from $2 million in 1959 to $2.8 million in 1968 and the yearly cost per student increased from $2,378 to $3,300.  Staff changes were numerous.  The attempt to operate the College like a private Preparatory school, wherein the Resident Masters were also teachers, failed.  Friedmann’s problems were common to most school systems.  The nationwide philosophy of education changed.  Educators were experimenting with courses and more liberal approaches to discipline.  Students were challenging the “system,” discarding tradition, and wanting more freedom.  Past traditions that helped make Girard College a quality institution were rapidly disappearing.  Earlier in 1968, the Courts required Girard College to accept non-white students.  Friedmann’s nine years were difficult times, but what followed was worse.

Mr. Friedmann retired in June.  Dr. Gayle K. Lawrence, a member of the Philadelphia Commission on Higher Education was selected to replace Friedmann.  He had been a political science teacher at Temple University for 19 years and was actively involved with local and state politics.  Lawrence assumed the Presidency in the Spring of 1969.  The year-end population of students was 580, continuing a downward trend that began in 1951.  Twice as many students were leaving the College as were graduating.  Students represented 17 states.  A request was submitted to place Founder’s Hall on the list of National Historic Buildings.  The Library in the Elementary School was closed. 

In 1969, the school band celebrated its 100th anniversary.  It was believed to be the oldest secondary school band in the United States.  The Band first appeared in November 1869, to supply music for the Cadet Corps.  C. Stanley Mackey, a Girard graduate, took charge of the band in 1911 and developed it into an outstanding organization of one hundred pieces.  It was one of the City’s finest, and so many invitations to play were received that the school had to curb their participation.  Before too long there wouldn’t be enough students to form a band.

The cost to operate the College per year in 1970 was now at $3.2 million.  There were 496 boys in the school including 47 “fatherless” boys admitted this year.  One Hundred and twenty-six (126) left the school including 40 who graduated and 25 that were “kicked-out”.  Whereas the College until now was an 11 grade school, this year they added 7th grade, made it a 12 year school and implemented a trimester plan.  For the first time, teachers were given tenure and a sick leave policy. Reorganization eliminated the Assistant Directors of Secondary and Elementary Education and in their place a Director of Discipline and a Special Assistant to the President was created. Banker Hall was demolished in April and the Presidents home and Bordeaux Hall were renovated.  A long weekend policy was implemented in that older boys could go home from Friday afternoon until Sunday night.  The boy’s trust funds were used to pay for college visitations and costs associated with their senior year.

The expenses per student in 1971 were up to $7172.  The number of students was 452 and significantly more boys were leaving than were admitted.  Turn-over of staff was extraordinary.  Labor problems were prevalent.  Teachers joined the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers union and the hourly workers joined the International Brotherhood of Fireman and Oilers.  Three hundred thousand dollars were allotted to build a new dispensary on the first floor of the Junior School building.  The other two staff cottages were refurbished.  Contemporary style clothing was purchased for the upper classes.  A new internal communication document, The Corinthian Column, was implemented.  A part-time curator was hired to care for the Girard Collection.  Lawrence fired Al Moscariello, an Alumnus and the College’s Business Manager.  It is believed that the action was prompted because the alumni were beginning to criticize Lawrence for his administration of the College.  Things would get worse.




[1]As of  1993, it's over $200 million

[2]As I write this in 1999, Mr. Friedmann still lives.

[3] He was a bachelor, a graduate of the University Of Penn, owned blue chip stocks and a half interest in valuable center city real estate located at South Penn Square.  He has not been adequately recognized by the school or the alumni.  He died in November 1962.  Although he was not a  graduate of the College, he was impressed with its purpose


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