Williamson College of the Trades

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Williamson College of the Trades
Williamson Free Trade School.JPG
Type Junior college
Established 1888
President Michael J. Rounds
Undergraduates 250
Location Middletown, PA, USA
Campus Rural, 220 acres (0.89 km2)
Colors Blue, Gold and White
Athletics Baseball Basketball Cross Country Football Lacrosse Soccer Tennis Wrestling
Website https://www.williamson.edu/
Isaiah Williamson
Isaiah Vansant Williamson c.1880

Williamson College of the Trades (formerly, "Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades") is a men's junior vocational college located in Middletown Township near Media, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. The school was founded on December 1, 1888 by successful Philadelphia merchant and philanthropist, Isaiah Vansant Williamson.[1][2]

External video
Williamson stairway.JPG
About the Machine Tool Technology Program, 2:47, July 2015, Williamson College of the Trades


Concept and planning[edit]

Isaiah Vansant Williamson spent the final decade of his life creating, developing and formulating plans for a new trade school for underprivileged boys to be located in a suburb of Philadelphia.[3]


In 1889, just six days before he died, Isaiah Williamson purchased 220 acres of land to be used for the school's campus in Middletown Township, near Elwyn, Pennsylvania. Williamson personally selected the site from over 200 prospective locations. The original board of trustees, headed by chairman, John Wanamaker implemented Williamson's plans and vision for the institution following his death.[3]

Renowned Philadelphia architect, Frank Furness won the competition to design the original campus buildings. Ground was broken for the administration building in 1890 and the school opened for classes in 1891. Most of the original buildings are still functioning as they were originally purposed.[4] Over the decades, Williamson has maintained a rustic feel to its campus by keeping the majority of its land undeveloped.[5] Facilities on the historic campus include:

Rowan Hall[edit]

Administrative offices, student lounge, dining room, and the chapel (originally "Main Building", renamed on November 15, 2016).[6]

The John Wanamaker Free School of Artisans[edit]

An integral part of the college, includes separate, modern carpentry, machine, paint, and masonry shops.

Walter M. Strine, Sr. 2W9 Learning Center[edit]

Houses the library, the placement office, faculty and administrative offices, and classrooms.

Lipp Educational Center[edit]

Includes classrooms, faculty offices, a computer laboratory, a resource room with a technical library, and three separate laboratories.

Dorrance H. Hamilton Horticultural Center[edit]

The complex of facilities supporting the horticulture program is named after the philanthropist Mrs. Dorrance Hill Hamilton.

William L. McLean, Jr. Technical Center[edit]

Technical center named in honor of newspaper executive, William L. McLean, Jr.

The Restall Sports Center[edit]

Completed in 1988, includes a basketball court, indoor running track, weight room, locker rooms, offices, lounge, and laundry facilities.

Student housing[edit]

Twelve dormitories, including Byers Hall I & II, C Cottage, Derrickson, Eyre, George, Jenks, Longstreth, Smith, Stell, Townsend, and Watson (2017).

Faculty homes[edit]

On-campus housing for faculty members.

Athletic fields[edit]

Baseball, football, lacrosse, and soccer fields. Also, tennis courts.

"Williamson School" Station[edit]

An abandoned SEPTA train station located on campus. The station ended service in 1986.

Alumni Hall[edit]

The location of The Clarence W. Schrenk Program in Horticulture, Landscaping, and Turf Management. The program maintains two greenhouses and many gardens, including the Sabia Garden adjacent to the McLean Technical Center.

Pennsylvania Historical Marker[edit]

In 2013, a historical marker from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission was placed near the campus' main entrance in commemoration of the school's 125th anniversary and its noteworthy architecture.[7] The historical marker (#HM1D5B) reads:

"Founded in 1888 by philanthropist Isaiah V. Williamson to teach underprivileged young men "some trade, free of expense" via a character ~ based curriculum. With trade apprenticeships disappearing in the US in the late 19th century, it was a model in vocational education. It is the only trade school in the nation providing full scholarships to all students. The campus contains the largest existing collection of buildings designed by Frank Furness."[8]

Student life[edit]

Although the vocational school subscribes to a "Judeo-Christian" belief system, and enforces a highly disciplined lifestyle, it is not affiliated with any religious organization.[3]:95 On July 1, 2015, the school was officially renamed Williamson College of the Trades.[9]

Williamson is the only trade college in the country that gives all students full scholarships, covering tuition, textbooks, and room and board. The college uses its endowment to cover two-thirds of student costs each year, with the balance coming from private donations and fundraising. Neither the college nor its students accept any form of federal financial aid. Williamson College of the Trades is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology.

All students are required to live on-campus throughout their three years of study. Students live in supervised dormitories, attend a daily chapel service, and follow a dress code. Students must also participate in at least one official student activity each year. Choices include: team sports, the student newspaper, and student government.

Courses are offered in the following trades:

Carpentry Machine Tool Technology Power Plant technology
Horticulture Masonry
Landscaping Painting

Graduates receive an Associate's degree in their chosen field, but may opt for a diploma in Carpentry or Masonry.[10]


  1. ^ Holmes, Kristin (18 May 2015). "Changing times at Delco trade school". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 11 July 2015. 
  2. ^ "Students at Delco's Williamson College make top 10". Philly.com. 7 July 2015. Retrieved 11 July 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c Wanamaker, John (1928). Wikisource link to Life of Isaiah V. Williamson. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company. Wikisource. 
  4. ^ "The Founding of Williamson". www.williamson.edu. 2016. Retrieved September 20, 2016. 
  5. ^ "Campus Facilities". www.williamson.edu. 2016. Retrieved November 3, 2016. 
  6. ^ "Williamson renames building in honor of benefactor". November 14, 2016. Retrieved November 14, 2016 – via www.delcotimes.com. 
  7. ^ Alburger, Bette (June 7, 2013). "PA Historical Marker installed at Williamson Trade School". www.delconewsnetwork.com. Retrieved September 20, 2016. 
  8. ^ "The Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades". www.historicalmarkerproject.com. October 26, 2014. Retrieved December 8, 2016. 
  9. ^ "It's Official — We are now Williamson College of the Trades!". Retrieved 2015-08-24. 
  10. ^ Trade programs

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 39°54′23″N 75°25′24″W / 39.9065°N 75.4234°W / 39.9065; -75.4234