Founders Hall @ Girard College

July 1, 2009

I literally live a block from one of the most beautiful and historic spots in Philly- Girard College (not actually a college but a boarding school). It’s rare that the general public is allowed inside the sprawling campus and high walls but we peasants were allowed in as part of Hidden City Philadelphia. It allowed me to finally check out the grand Founders Hall, which was designed by Thomas Ustick Walter, the same guy who designed the US Capitol dome. It was the second most expensive building built before the Civil War, second only to the US Capitol, and it is larger than the Parthenon.

Some history of Stephen Girard and his school:
He was one of the wealthiest men of the US industrial age and he left the bulk of his money to the city to build a school for “poor white male orphans.” Brown vs. Board of Education in the ’50s ruled that separate but equal schools were unconstitutional and Martin Luther King Jr. himself marched outside the college. It allowed blacks in 1972. It didn’t admit women until 1984.

Check out the very interesting complete timeline here.

I really need to brush up on my photography skills but I managed to get some good shots:


Stephen Girard

The colorful props are left over from a scene that was shot for M. Night Shalamadingdong’s next project The Last Airbender.
last airbender

stairway in founders hall




Student graffitti on the ceiling of a closet from 1880. I think this is so cool:
1880 graffitti


All of the old student records dating back to the mid 1800s are piled up in this dusty old room. So cool:







Better pictures on flickr.


One comment

  1. I am from Ventnor, N. J., and I am staying at my sons house in South Philly, for a few days. Driving around today, he showed me a park that he had just found, he hasn’t lived here all his life, a few days ago with a tree that had fallen during a storm. Tonight we walked to the Shop Rite and I wanted to see the tree. We walked through the park and I noticed the house, which immediately made me curious as to whom this property belonged to. After finding the statue of this man, of course I heard of the name Girard, I went back to my son’s house to google him. What I found was a man of greatness and goodness. It is a shame that what this man has done is not common knowledge. When you say the name Philadelphia, the name Girard should be synonymous. You hear Girard Bank, Ave., ect., but how may people know who the man really was. After doing a limited amount of research on this man, I can see that he was someone who should be recognized and honored far more than he has been. Thanks for the photos.

    Karen Smith.

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