Baldwin School

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The Baldwin School
Disce Verum Laborem
Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, United States
Type Private, All-Girl
Religious affiliation(s) Nonsectarian
Established 1888
Head of School Sally M. Powell
Faculty 73 full-time, 11 part-time
Enrollment 587 girls
Average class size 13 girls
Student to teacher ratio 7 to 1
Campus Suburban
Color(s) Blue and Gray
Athletics Baldwin Bears
Athletics conference Inter-Academic League
Mascot Winnie the Bear
Average SAT scores 2210
Bryn Mawr Hotel
Baldwin School is located in Pennsylvania
Baldwin School
Location Morris and Montgomery Aves., Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
Coordinates 40°1′23″N 75°18′46″W / 40.02306°N 75.31278°W / 40.02306; -75.31278Coordinates: 40°1′23″N 75°18′46″W / 40.02306°N 75.31278°W / 40.02306; -75.31278
Area 1.5 acres (0.61 ha)
Built 1890
Architect Furness, Evans, & Co.; Furness, Frank
Architectural style Renaissance, French Chateau, Other
Governing body Local
NRHP Reference # 79002300[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHP April 27, 1979
Designated PHMC April 11, 2000[2]

The Baldwin School is an all-girls private day school located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania in Greater Philadelphia. Founded in 1888 by Florence Baldwin, it now consists of a Lower, Middle, and Upper School totaling approximately 600 in enrollment.

The school occupies a 19th-century resort hotel designed by Victorian architect Frank Furness, a landmark of the Philadelphia Main Line.[3] The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 27, 1979.[1]


In 1888, Miss Florence Baldwin founded "Miss Baldwin's School for Girls, Preparatory for Bryn Mawr College" in her mother's house at the corner of Montgomery and Morris Avenues in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Although the establishment of the school was viewed by many to be a "preposterous extravagance", and any education for girls was considered unnecessary and potentially dangerous in the late 19th century, the first class was composed of thirteen girls.[4]

"The Residence" (formerly Bryn Mawr Hotel) by Furness, Evans & Company. The second Bryn Mawr Hotel opened May 30, 1891).

The second Bryn Mawr Hotel was designed by Furness, Evans & Company and built in 1890-91. It is a five-story, "L" shaped stone-and-brick building in a Renaissance Revival / Châteauesque style. It features a large semi-circular section at the main entrance, topped by a conical roof and finial. It has a steeply pitched red roof with a variety of dormers, chimneys, towers, finials, and skylights.[5]

In 1896, The Baldwin School began leasing the Bryn Mawr Hotel during the winter months, then year-round in 1912. In 1922, the school purchased the building and the surrounding 25 acres (100,000 m2) for $240,000.

Today the school has added many additions but still manages to maintain the elegance and grandeur of the original building. The original building is known as "The Residence," and formerly served as dormitories for boarding students. It is now home to the dining hall, art studio, apartments for faculty and staff, music classes, and an Early Childhood Center, with renovations completed in 1998 specifically for the Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten classes. A two-story science building opened in 1961 and was enlarged in 1995 to accommodate the increasing number of students. The Upper and Middle Schools inhabit the three-story Schoolhouse, which was built in 1926 and renovated in 1997. Grades 1-5 are housed in a separate building.[4]

The school formally opened a new athletic center on November 8, 2008. The new building has a six-lane swimming pool, gymnasium, three-lane jogging track, 4 squash courts, state-of-the-art fitness center, multipurpose meeting/activity space, and more. It is accompanied by a five new tennis courts, a new practice field, and complements other athletic facilities which pre-date World War II. [4]


$1 million in scholarships is distributed annually to 15% of the students. The average grant awarded was $10,968. [6]

Student body[edit]

Students of color now represent 28% of the student body.[6] The Baldwin School is not religiously associated.


The mission of The Baldwin School includes "developing talented girls into confident young women with vision, global understanding, and the competency to make significant and enduring contributions to the world. The school nurtures our students' passion for intellectual rigor in academics, creativity in the arts and competition in athletics, forming women capable of leading their generation while living balanced lives."

The Class of 2011 had 18 girls recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, National Latin Exam medalists, eight college athletes, Society of Women Engineers certificate holders, a community hero award winner and other accomplished young women. Every year a multitude of students from eighth grade and above win awards on the National Latin Exam and through the Philadelphia Classical Society.[7]

Baldwin has a high[clarification needed] percentage of graduates majoring and working in math and science fields, about 1/3, greater than the national average for women.



Beginning in Lower School, students play chimes, handbells, guitars, harp and piano, with instrumental ensembles like jazz band and firenze available in the Upper School. In 2011 Middle School Chorus received a rating of 95.6/100 for their performance at Music in the Parks, taking home the First Place Trophy in the Treble Choir division as well as the Overall Performance trophy. Baldwin's Upper School select a-capella group, the B Flats, performs along with handbell groups in Europe annually.


The 2011 performance of Rumors produced several Cappies nominations, and the Cappie supporting actress role award went to a Baldwin student for Urinetown. The Upper School Maskers Club supports the theater through ushering and advertising.

Visual Art

Off the stage, Baldwin girls explore ceramics, computer graphics, photography, jewelry making, painting and sculpture. Their works are showcased throughout the school, including in the art gallery.



The Baldwin School competes in the Inter-Academic League, most commonly known as the Inter-Ac. Interscholastic varsity sports are: Basketball, Cross-Country, Field Hockey, Golf, Lacrosse, Rowing, Soccer, Softball, Squash, Swimming and Diving, Tennis, Volleyball, and Indoor Track. Dance is also offered, and students also have the option of Independent PE if they are seriously committed to a sport outside of school such as fencing or ice skating.

In 2011, Baldwin student-athletes captured Inter-Ac titles in tennis and squash. The squash team also won the Mid-Atlantic Squash Association title and placed third at Nationals. Baldwin's crew team medaled at the national Scholastic Rowing Association of America Championship, and its lacrosse team achieved a top-20 ranking in the state and finished 2011 in the top 10% of 2,500+ teams nationwide. [9]

The Baldwin School recently built a new athletic center that features an indoor track, swimming pool, fitness center, dance studio, squash courts, and basketball court. The eco-friendly construction features solar reflective roofing, regionally sourced materials, Energy Star equipment and appliances, and an indoor air quality management system. [10]

Notable faculty[edit]

Jean Paul Kürsteiner, 1886–1906, music and piano teacher

Notable alumnae[edit]

  • Ruth Davidon (1982): Olympic rower; competed in the 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games.
  • Gertrude Summer Ely (1895): twice-decorated by the French for Distinguished Bravery Under Fire; past president of the Pennsylvania League of Women Voters; member of the executive committee for UNICEF and the World Affairs Council.
  • Henrietta H. Fore (1966): former director of the U.S. Mint; later administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (2007–2009).
  • Emma Hamm (2007): Division I lacrosse player for Duke University; Member of 2007 U-19 World Championship Team; Named to All-World Team; 2008 ACC Rookie of the Year,'s Rookie of the Year,'s Rookie of the Year.
  • Andrea Lee (1970): writer and novelist.
  • Leslie Lyness (1986): part of the U.S. Field Hockey Team that competed in the 1996 Olympic Games.
  • Helen Taft Manning (1908): daughter of President Taft; became the youngest dean in the country when she accepted the post at Bryn Mawr College in 1917.
  • Martha Craven Nussbaum (1964): Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago; named among the world’s Top 100 intellectuals by Foreign Policy magazine in September 2005.
  • Cornelia Otis Skinner (1918): actress and writer; once known as "the greatest single attraction in American theater."
  • Kinney Zalesne (1983): former Counsel to U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, co-author of Microtrends.


External links[edit]