Baltimore Polytechnic Institute

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Coordinates: 39°20′48″N 76°38′41″W / 39.34677°N 76.64469°W / 39.34677; -76.64469[1]

Baltimore Polytechnic Institute
BPI Seal
1400 W. Cold Spring Lane
Baltimore, Maryland 21209
Type Public school
Exam secondary school
Founded 1883
Sister school Western High School
School district Baltimore City Public Schools
Superintendent Gregory Thornton
School number 403
Principal Mrs. Jacqueline Willams[2]
Grades 912
Enrollment 1,481[3] (2014)
Campus Poly-Western Complex
Campus size 53 acres (21 ha)
Campus type Urban
Color(s) Orange and Blue
Mascot Parrot
Team name Engineers
Affiliation Ingenuity Project

Baltimore Polytechnic Institute (BPI) is a U.S. public high school founded in 1883. Though established as an all-male trade school, it is now a coeducational institution (polytechnic) that emphasizes mathematics, sciences, and engineering. It is located on a 53-acre (21 ha) tract of land in North Baltimore at Falls Road and Cold Spring Lane, bordering Roland Park to the east and I-83 to the west. BPI and Western High School, originally BPI's sister school, are located on the same campus and share several amenities including a cafeteria, auditorium, and athletic fields. BPI is a Maryland Blue Ribbon School of Excellence[citation needed].


BPI was founded in 1883, after Joshua Plaskitt petitioned the Baltimore City authorities to establish a school for instruction in engineering. The original school was named the Baltimore Manual Training School, and its first class was made up of about sixty students, all of whom were male. The official name of the school was changed in the 1890s to the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. The first principals were Dr. Richard Grady, Lt. John D. Ford, and Lieutenant William King, after whom King Memorial Hall is named. The first building was located on the former site of the old central City Spring on Courtland Street just north of East Saratoga Street of which the area was later contained in Baltimore's first "urban renewal" plan with the tearing down of several blocks of houses along Courtland and Saint Paul Streets to the west and the construction of Preston Gardens and Saint Paul Place from Lexington Street to Centre Street in the north in 1923. The former BPI building became home to the Baltimore City Department of Welfare and was later annexed by neighboring Mercy Hospital on North Calvert Street to the east and later torn down for construction of their first hospital tower in 1964. In 1983, at the school's centennial observation, a historical plaque was placed in the lobby of the hospital commemorating that earlier first home of Poly. It just so happened that this building was across the street and fifty years later after their long-time rival school Baltimore City College was established in a row house in 1839, also on the now vanished Courtland Street

Baltimore Polytechnic Institute on North Avenue


Due to continued growth of the student population at BPI, the school relocated in 1913 to Calvert Street and North Avenue. While at this location, the school expanded both its academic and athletic programs under the supervision of Dr. Wilmer Dehuff, who was principal from 1921 to 1958 and reluctantly (see below) oversaw the racial integration of the school in 1952, the first instance in City of Baltimore public schools.[citation needed] Dehuff later served as the president and Dean of Faculty at the University of Baltimore.


Most Baltimore City public schools were not integrated until after the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education. BPI had an unusually advanced and difficult college engineering "A" preparatory curriculum which included calculus, analytical chemistry, electricity, mechanics and surveying; these subjects were not offered at the black schools in the City before 1952.[4] BPI was a whites-only school but supported by taxes on the general population. No black schools in the City (black students could not attend whites-only schools) offered such courses, nor did they have classrooms, labs, libraries or teachers comparable to those at BPI. Because of this a group of 16 African American students, with help and support from their parents, the Baltimore Urban League and the NAACP, applied for the engineering "A" course at the Poly;[5] the applications were denied and the students sued.

The subsequent trial began on June 16, 1952. The NAACP’s intentions were to end segregation at the 50-year-old public high school. In the BPI case they argued that BPI’s offerings of specialized engineering courses violated the "separate but equal" clause because these courses were not offered in high schools for black students. To avoid integration, an out-of-court proposal was made to the Baltimore City school board to start an equivalent "A" course at the "colored" (for non-whites) Frederick Douglass High School. The hearing on the "Douglass" plan lasted for hours, with Dehuff and others arguing that separate but equal "A" courses would satisfy constitutional requirements and NAACP attorney Thurgood Marshall arguing that the plan was a gamble and cost the City should not take. By a vote of 5–3, the board decided that a separate "A" course would not provide the same educational opportunities for African American students, and that, starting that fall, African American students could attend Poly.[6] The vote vindicated the NAACP national strategy of raising the cost of 'separate but equal' schools beyond what taxpayers were willing to pay.[7] Thirteen African American students, Leonard Cephas, Carl Clark, William Clark, Milton Cornish, Clarence Daly, Victor Dates, Alvin Giles, Bucky Hawkins, Linwood Jones, Edward Savage, Everett Sherman, Robert Young, and Silas Young, finally entered the school that fall. They were faced daily with racial epithets, threats of violence and isolation from many of the more than 2,000 students at the school.[8] The first of those students to graduate from Poly was Dr. Carl O. Clark in 1955. Dr. Clark went on to become the first African-American to graduate from the University of South Carolina with a degree in Physics in 1976.

BPI complex[edit]

Baltimore Polytechnic Institute's current building on Falls Road

In 1967, then-principal Claude Burkert (1958–1969) oversaw the relocation of his school to its current location at 1400 West Cold Spring Lane, a fifty-three acre tract of land bordering Falls Road and Roland Park. Also occupying this site is the Western High School, an all-girl school founded in 1844. Notable buildings on the campus include Dehuff Hall, also known as the academic building, where students attend normal classes, and Burkert Hall, also called the engineering building, where students attend classes in the Willard Hackerman Engineering Program. Both Western High School and Poly students make use of the auditorium/cafeteria complex, and likewise share the large gymnasium, swimming pool and sports fields. While these two schools share grounds and buildings, that is all they share: their respective academic programs are completely separate from one another. The students of each school are not allowed on the other school's grounds without permission.

Poly-Western Band at the 2008 Morgan State University Homecoming Parade.

In 1974, Poly officially became coeducational when it began admitting female students. The first female to enroll and successfully graduate from the "A" course was an African-American named Cindy White (1974–1978). In the late 1980s, the title "principal" was changed to "director." After the retirement of Director John Dohler in 1990, Barbara Stricklin became the first woman to head the school, as she accepted the title of Interim Director. During Director Ian Cohen's tenure (1994–2003), Poly's curriculum was again expanded when it began offering AP classes. During the 2001–2002 school year, Poly was recognized by the Maryland State Department of Education when Poly was named a "Blue Ribbon School of Excellence."

In 2004 Dr. Barney Wilson, a 1976 Poly graduate, became Baltimore Polytechnic Institute's first African-American Director.

In August 2010, Later on during the year around August, assistant principal Matthew Woolston, was appointed as interim Director of the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute.

In 2011, BPI was ranked 1552 nationally and 44 in Maryland as a "Silver Medal School" by the U.S. News and World Report.[9] Later on during the year around August, Jacqueline Williams was appointed as interim director of the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute for the 2011–2012 school year. By the end of the school year – and after a two-year, nation-wide search – Jacqueline Williams, class of 1981, was appointed as the first female Director of the institution. Like many notable predecessors, Williams has worked her way through the Poly ranks as a student, teacher, department head, assistant principal, and Dean of Students.[2]




Since the early 1900s the Engineers, along with City College, had dominated the Maryland Scholastic Association (MSA) football scene. However, since joining the MPSSAA in 1993, Poly made it to the final game once in 1993, the semifinals once in 1997 and the quarterfinals in 1994 and 1998.[10]

Poly and City[edit]

The Poly-City football rivalry is the oldest American football rivalry in Maryland and one of the oldest public school rivalries in the U.S.—predated by the rivalry between the Boston Latin School and the English High School of Boston.[18] The rivalry began in 1889, when a team from Baltimore City College (City) met a team from the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute (Poly), and has continued annually.[18] Despite City's initial dominance in the series, Poly leads in overall wins with the record standing at 62–54–6.

Early years[edit]

Little is known of the first American football game between Baltimore Polytechnic Institute (Poly) and Baltimore City College (City) in 1889, except that a JV team from Poly met City, in Clifton Park and City emerged the victor. That began the oldest football rivalry in Maryland.[18] City continued to win against Poly through 1901, however in 1902, for the only time in history of the series no game was played; though, in 1931, an extra game was played to compensate.[19] Between 1903 and 1906, City won the series, but the tide turned in 1907, when the first tie in the series occurred.[20] The next year Poly scored its first victory in the rivalry.[20]

1910s and 1920s[edit]

Poly dominated the series in the 1910s. The only year of the decade that City won was 1912,[21] and between 1914 and 1917, Poly shut out City. Poly's streak continued through 1921, completing a nine-year winning streak, which City broke in 1922 with a 27–0 victory.[22]

In 1926, one of the most famous Poly-City games was played. Prior to the game, the eligibility of City's halfback, Mickey Noonen, was challenged. A committee was formed to investigate Noonen's eligibility, but Noonen's father—frustrated with the investigation—struck one of the members of the committee. The result was that Noonen was not only barred from the team, but also expelled from the Baltimore City school system.[23] In spite of Noonen's removal, the two teams met at the Baltimore Stadium with 20,000 fans in attendance. The game remained scoreless well into the fourth quarter. Finally, Poly's Harry Lawerence—who later became a coach at City—kicked a successful field goal from the 30-yard leading to a 3–0 victory over City.[18]

1930s and 1940s[edit]

The 1930s ushered in a period of resurgence for the City team. Poly, which had dominated in the previous two decades, only picked up two wins in the 1930s.[21] In 1934, Harry Lawrence, who had kicked the winning field goal against City in 1926, became the head coach at his former rival.[24] Lawrence led City to a series of victories over Poly through the 1930s and early 1940s. In 1944, the game, which had been played on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, was moved to Thanksgiving Day. The change was the result of a scheduling conflict with the Army – Navy Game.[25] The game remained on Thanksgiving Day for nearly 50 years.

Lumsden and Young: 1950s and 1960s[edit]

Poly won five straight games against City to open the 1950s, and 9 of the decade's 10 games, under legendary coach Bob Lumsden, for whom the school's current football stadium is named. Lumsden finished with an 11–7 record against City when he retired as head coach in 1966. He also coached 9–0 Poly to the unofficial National High School Championship Game at Miami's Orange Bowl in 1962, against the Miami High Stingarees, but Poly lost by a score of 14–6. The team's fortunes changed later in the 1960s, when City was coached by George Young. Young guided his teams to six wins over Poly, and an equal number of state championships.[26] One of Young's most memorable victories occurred on Thanksgiving Day, 1965, at Memorial Stadium, when undefeated City beat undefeated Poly 52–6.[27]

1970s – Present[edit]

Poly controlled the series throughout the 1970s, and well into the 1980s. City lost a total of 17 consecutive games to Poly, before winning the 99th meeting between the two programs in 1987.[18] Poly's dominance during this period is the longest winning streak in the series. City also went on to win the historic 100th showdown a year later, before Poly got on another roll, starting with the 101st clash in 1989. Baltimore City's public schools withdrew from the Maryland State Athletic Association, in 1993, and joined the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA).[28] This change meant that the football season would end earlier, forcing Poly and City to move their game from Thanksgiving Day to the first Saturday in November. Poly and City met for the 119th time in November 2007, a contest marred by the outbreak of a large brawl outside M&T Bank Stadium after the final whistle. Poly and City met for the 120th time on November 8, 2008. Baltimore Polytechnic Institute and Baltimore City College then met for the 121st time on November 7, 2009 with the score of 26–20. Poly and City met for the 122nd time on November 6, 2010.


  • Dr. Richard Grady (1883–1886)
  • Lt. John D. Ford (1886–1890)
  • Lieutenant William King (1890–1921)
  • Dr. Wilmer Dehuff (1921–1958)
  • Claude Burkert (1958–1969)
  • William Gerardi (1969–1980)
  • Zeney Jacobs (1980–1984)
  • Gary Thrift (1984–1985)
  • John Dohler (1985–1990)
  • Barbara Stricklin^ (1990–1991)
  • Dr. Albert Strickland (1991–1994)
  • Ian Cohen (1994–2003)
  • Sharon Kanter^ (2003–2004)
  • Dr. Barney Wilson (2004–2010)
  • Matthew Woolston^ (2010–2011)
  • Jacqueline Williams (2011–present)

^ Denotes interim director while a search for a permanent director was occurring or ongoing at the time

Notable alumni[edit]

Arts, literature and entertainment[edit]

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Dashiell Hammett Author, works include The Maltese Falcon, and The Thin Man
Mark Longo Artist [29][30]
Donald Garmer 1952 Artist (watercolors)
H. L. Mencken 1896 Writer
William J. Murray Son of atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair
Neal Conway Centennial Class of 1984 Songwriter, Producer "Gypsy Woman"-Crystal Waters, "Why You Wanna"-T.I., "Walking"-Mary Mary, "Took My Love"-Pitbull
Ta-Nehisi Coates A senior editor for The Atlantic, author, and blogger [31]
Boimah Sambola Class of 2010 Producer (Stage Name: Dj Bubbo)
Edward Wilson British writer of spy novels [32]


Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Allan L. Scherr 1958 Vice President, IBM; IBM Fellow (for technical achievements in operating systems and computer communications); Senior VP of Software Engineering, EMC Corp.
George R. Hepburn 1969 President, Founder, & CEO, Dynasplint Systems, Inc.
Alonzo G. Decker, Jr. 1925 Former chairman, Black and Decker Corporation
W. Brook Tunstall Vice-President, AT&T; Director, Brooktrout Technologies
Bruce Kilkowski Vice-President, JCPennny


Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Jacqueline Williams 1981 First female African-American principal (2011–present) [2]
John Corcoran, PhD, DHC 1956 Logician, philosopher, mathematician, historian of logic.

Judiciary/Law Enforcement[edit]

Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Anthony E. Barksdale Baltimore Police Department Deputy Commissioner for Operations (1993–present) [33][34]
Edward F. Borgerding Baltimore City District Court (1971–1988)
Alfred L. Brennan Baltimore City Circuit Court (1988–1998)
Ben Clyburn Baltimore City District Court
John Glynn Baltimore City Circuit Court
Al Nance Baltimore City Circuit Court
Thomas E. Noel Baltimore City Circuit Court (1983–2006)
Lawrence Rushworth Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, (1989–1999)


Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Nick J. Mosby 1997 (D), Councilman, District 7, Baltimore City, (2011–current)
Anthony Ambridge (D), Councilman, District 2, Baltimore City, (1983–1996)
Thomas L. Bromwell 1967 (D), Maryland State Senator, District 8, Baltimore County, (1983–2002) [35]
Andrew J. Burns Jr (D), Maryland State Delegate, District 43, Baltimore City (1967–1982)
Cornell Dypski (D), Maryland State Delegate, District 46, Baltimore City (1987–2003)
Edward Garmatz U.S. Congressman representing Maryland's 3rd District, (1947–1973)
Clarence M. Mitchell IV (D), Maryland State Senator, District 39, Baltimore City, (1999–2003)
George W. Wiland U.S. Congressional Constituent Representative, (R), OK-1, (2001–present), U.S. Presidential Elector, (2000)


Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Dr. Carl Oliver Clark 1955 Physicist, First African-American to graduate from the University of South Carolina (USC) with a PhD in Physics in 1976
Don L. Anderson Geophysicist, winner of the Crafoord Prize and the National Medal of Science
John Rettaliata Fluid dynamicist, Former President at Illinois Institute of Technology
Robert H. Roy Mechanical engineer, Dean of Engineering and Science at Johns Hopkins University
Salvatore Sutera Mechanical engineer, Former Dean of Engineering and Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis
William Corcoran, PhD, PE 1955 Nuclear engineer, Root cause analyst, Fellow of the American Nuclear Society 1981, American Nuclear Society President's Citation 2013
Joseph Corcoran 1958 Electrical engineer, Commander USN ( Retired ); Deep Selected for Captain USN ( declined ) ; Executive Vice President , Computer Dynamics Inc.
Millard F. Beatty, PhD 1953 Engineering mechanics


Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Antonio Freeman 1990 Former wide receiver for the Green Bay Packers, and Philadelphia Eagles
Greg Kyler Former wide receiver/defensive back in the Arena Football League [36]
Mike Pitts 1978 Played a dozen seasons at defensive end for the Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles, and New England Patriots. [37]
Jack Scarbath Former quarterback for the Washington Redskins and Pittsburgh Steelers, enshrined in College Football Hall of Fame in 1983 for All-American career at Maryland
Greg Schaum Former defensive lineman with the Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots [38]
Jack Turnbull Three-time Johns Hopkins All-American and 1932 Olympic lacrosse player, 1936 Olympic field hockey player, and World War II fighter pilot
Elmer Wingate Former defensive end for the Baltimore Colts, All-American in both football and lacrosse at Maryland
LaQuan Williams 2006 Current wide receiver for the Baltimore Ravens
Ricardo Silva 2006 Safety who is currently a free agent.
Justin Wells 2006 Current guard for the Arena Football League
Kingston Z. Lee Current basketball fan for Drexel


Name Class year Notability Reference(s)
Paul J. Wiedorfer 1939 Won Medal of Honor at Battle of the Bulge



  1. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Baltimore Polytechnic Institute. Geographic Names Information System (GNIS). Retrieved June 22, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c "Polytechnic Institute graduate becomes first female African-American director". May 24, 2012. Retrieved July 6, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Enrollment for All Grades All Students : Demographics : Baltimore City - Baltimore Polytechnic Institute : 2014 Maryland Report Card:". Maryland State Department of Education. Retrieved July 27, 2014. 
  4. ^ Templeton, Furman L. (Winter 1954). "The Admission of Negro Boys to the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute "A" Course". The Journal of Negro Education 23 (1): 29. doi:10.2307/2293243. JSTOR 2293243. 
  5. ^ Crockett, Sandra. "Breaking The Color Barrier at Poly in 1952". Maryland Historical Society, Baltimore, MD. 
  6. ^ "Integration of Baltimore Polytechnic High School". Maryland Civil Archived from the original on October 6, 2007. Retrieved 2007-10-11. 
  7. ^ Olson, Sherry H. Baltimore: The Building of an American City (1997) p. 368-69. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland. ISBN 0-8018-5640-X
  8. ^ Glazer, Aaron M. "Course Correction". Baltimore City Paper Online. Retrieved 2007-10-11. 
  9. ^ "Baltimore Polytechnic Institute in Baltimore, MD". U.S. News and Report. Retrieved July 19, 2012. 
  10. ^ "MPSSA Football Championships Tournament History" (PDF). Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association. Retrieved September 15, 2007. 
  11. ^ Saye, Hyman, editor (1925). The 1925 Green Bag. 
  12. ^ Offit, Benson, editor (1948). The 1948 Green Bag. 
  13. ^ Silverwood, Harry, editor (1952). The 1952 Green Bag. 
  14. ^ Jackson, James B. (November 26, 1965). "Unbeaten City Deals Poly First Loss 52–6". Baltimore Sun. 
  15. ^ a b c Dixon, Joseph V., editor (1979). The 1979 Green Bag. 
  16. ^ Mills, Keith (November 8, 2007). "City vs. Poly: Tradition Time Is Here Again". The Press Box. Retrieved 2009-08-29. 
  17. ^ Mills, Keith. "City vs. Poly: Tradition Time Is Here Again". Press Box Preps. Retrieved 2009-04-26. 
  18. ^ a b c d e Patterson (2000), p. 7.
  19. ^ Leonhart (1939), p. 219.
  20. ^ a b Leonhart (1939), p. 221.
  21. ^ a b Leonhart (1939), p. 229.
  22. ^ Leonhart (1939) p. 224.
  23. ^ Leonhart (1939), p. 225–226.
  24. ^ Leonhart (1939), p. 227.
  25. ^ Patterson (2000), p. 8.
  26. ^ Marudas, Kyriakos (1988). The Poly-City Game. Baltimore: Gateway Press. p. 66. 
  27. ^ DiBlasi, Joe (November 9, 2006). "Poly-City". Word Smith Media Ventures. Retrieved 2007-07-26. 
  28. ^ Mills, Keith (November 8, 2007). "Poly vs. City: Tradition Time Is Here Again". Word Smith Media Ventures, LLC. Archived from the original on December 5, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-09. 
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^ Ta-Nehisi Coates (June 7, 2013). "If I Were a Black Kid ...". Retrieved April 19, 2014. 
  32. ^ "About Edward Wilson". Retrieved 2014-07-13. 
  33. ^ Baltimore Sun "For police, more change at the top". [dead link]
  35. ^ "Senate – Former Senators". Maryland State Archives. Retrieved September 4, 2012. 
  36. ^ [1][dead link]
  37. ^ "Mike Pitts, DE at". National Football League. Retrieved 2012-05-05. 
  38. ^ "HS Then & Now: For Abiamiri, Draft Day Was Just Gorgeous". Press Box Online. Retrieved September 4, 2012. 


  • Leonhart, James Chancellor (1939). One Hundred Years of the Baltimore City College. Baltimore: H.G. Roebuck & Son. 
  • Daneker, David C., editor (1988). 150 Years of the Baltimore City College. Baltimore: Baltimore City College Alumni Association. 
  • Marudas, Kyriakos (1988). The City-Poly Game. Baltimore: Gateway Press. 

External links[edit]