75 Ardmore Ave

Comments: The site of Ardmore Ave Elementary School from 1875 to 1963, including Lower Merion High School from 1894 to 1910. Replaced by Ardmore House in 1986.

Keywords: Ardmore, Ardmore Business District

1875-1900 --Lower Merion High School
and Ardmore elementary school
until burned in 1900.
Built circa 1875.

1875-1900 high school students.
--W Robert Swartz Collection no. BS975.

The school was first built in 1875, according to Josiah S Pearce.

1900 Fire destroys the first building. --Charles Barker scrapbook vol. 1, Historical Society of Montgomery County

Students view ruins of the Ardmore Avenue School in October 1900. The school was rebuilt c. 1901. --W. Robert Swartz Collection

part of the ruins

The burned-out shell, from the Charles Barker scrapbook vol.1 at the Historical Society of Montgomery County

New building
circa 1901 - front

c.1910 postcard from Joe Newby, Lower Merion Township employee. It was given to him by George Hofstetter, a retired L M Fire Marshal.

1901 building on the right connected by bridge over driveway to 1913 grammar school annex on the left.
--Swartz collection no. BS976,scanned by Ben Kleiman 2011-09-24.

1912-1913 photo for "Thirty Miles Around Philadelphia on the Pennsylvania Railroad / Information for the Suburban Home Seeker and the Summer Sojourner / 1913" but not used there. The wooden street sign says "School Lane."
(the booklet is filed in Flat File 5 drawer 1)

1916 or later, front

1916: The spiral toboggan fire-escape inside the vertical tube was added, much to the delight of the male students who thought of it as a giant sliding board. The building served as an elementary school until 1963.
The photo shows it in use to train fireman before the building was demolished in 1965. --Swartz Collection negative scanned by Ben Kleiman, May 2011

1916 or later --rear view with students and spiral fire escape. 1901 building on the left with grammar school annex on the right. Fire Escape added in 1916.
--from the Lower Merion School District Directory 1925-1926

Domestic Science, circa 1918. --Swartz Collection no. BS989

In August 1963 the School Board decided to close the Ardmore Avenue elementary school and distribute its 188 Negro and 35 white students to 4 other schools.

On 1963-08-26, the School Board moved and seconded to close the Ardmore Ave school and distribute the students as detailed in Plan III - 1A (the next image). After about 50 people spoke, the motion was CARRIED unanimously.

At the opening of school 10 days later, plan III-1A assigned the students to four schools. The Ardmore Ave school was closed.

In 1965, two years after it was last used, the buildings were demolished. From the caption: "abandoned two years ago in order to achieve better 'racial balance.' " --Probably from the Main Line Chronicle.

After making a proposal to the School Board in September 1966, the NAACP picketed the School District, as reported in the High School newspaper. They noted that the only non-white employees in the schools were one Negro teacher (and 511 white), one bus driver (of 18), and 10 (of 12) non-white janitors. There were no Negros among the 45 clerks and secretaries.

Built on the school site in 1986, Ardmore House is a conveniently located suburban housing facility for the elderly and disabled. Part of the HUD network, Ardmore House strives to provide assistance to those with low-income needs.

Ardmore House (rear)
Main Line Times article on its 25th anniversary is here

2013 plaque commemorating the Moment of Integration of this school with other elementary schools