Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades

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Main building, designed by Frank Furness

Williamson College of the Trades is a men's junior trade college located in Middletown Township near Media, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia.[1][2] It was founded by Isaiah Vansant Williamson, on December 1, 1888 under the name, Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades, and opened in 1891. 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.[4]

Williamson is the only trade college in the country that gives all students full scholarships, covering tuition, textbooks, and room & 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.

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

Student experience[edit]

The term of study at the college is three years. Programs are offered in carpentry, masonry, horticulture, landscaping, turf management, machine tools, painting, and power plant technology.[5] A graduate receives an Associate's degree in their chosen field, but may opt for a diploma in carpentry or masonry.

All students are required to live on-campus 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.


In 1889, just six days before he died, Isaiah Williamson selected a 220 acre site in Middletown Township, near Elwyn, Pennsylvania for the school's campus from over 200 potential sites that he had considered. The school's original board of trustees, headed by chairman, John Wanamaker implemented Isaiah's plans and vision for the institution following his death. 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. Many of the original buildings are still in use today, functioning as they were originally purposed.[6]

An abandoned train station, Williamson School is located on campus. The station ended service in 1986.

In 2013, a historical marker from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission was placed on campus to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the school and the historic campus architecture.[7]


  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. ^ Wanamaker, John (1928). Wikisource link to Life of Isaiah V. Williamson. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company. Wikisource. 
  4. ^ "It's Official — We are now Williamson College of the Trades!". Retrieved 2015-08-24. 
  5. ^ Trade programs
  6. ^ "The Founding of Williamson". www.williamson.edu. 2016. Retrieved September 20, 2016. 
  7. ^ Alburger, Bette (June 7, 2013). "PA Historical Marker installed at Williamson Trade School". www.delconewsnetwork.com. Retrieved September 20, 2016. 

External links[edit]

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