The Baldwin School
The Baldwin School, an independent school for girls in Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade, was founded in 1888 by Florence Baldwin as a preparatory school for young women planning to enter nearby Bryn Mawr College. Assisted by her sisters, Anna and Helen, Florence conducted classes in their mother’s house on the corner of Morris and Montgomery Avenues. In 1896, the school leased the Bryn Mawr Hotel, located across from the Baldwin home, for the winter months. In 1922, the school purchased the hotel and its grounds and within three years added the Schoolhouse which now houses the Middle and Upper Schools. The last boarders graduated in 1974, and the Residence, or main building of the former hotel, was converted into offices and faculty apartments as well as art and music studios.
In 1975, the Lower School was added to the Baldwin campus, and in 1998 a new Early Childhood Education Center was opened especially for Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten girls.
Today, there are more than 4,000 Baldwin alumni, and they live in nearly every state of the United States and in many foreign countries. Many of them return every spring for reunions.
In 1998-99, 604 girls entered the familiar wrought iron gates to study at Baldwin. Of those, 22 percent receive financial aid, including full scholarships. As a college preparatory school, Baldwin sends all of its graduates on to higher education. Seniors choose such colleges and universities as Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Brown, Stanford, Williams, Wellesley, and the University of Pennsylvania. In 1998-99, 38 percent of the senior class achieved recognition as both National Merit Scholars and Commended Students.
Baldwin still honors the aims set by Miss Baldwin, adapting them to the needs of today. The school’s commitment to remaining a single sex institution assures young women the opportunity to develop competence, confidence, and responsibility in a diverse and caring community.
The Shipley School
The Shipley School, now a coeducational day school in Bryn Mawr, was founded in 1894 by the three Shipley sisters, Hannah, Elizabeth, and Katharine, to prepare young women for Bryn Mawr College. The children of a Quaker father who encouraged his daughters in intellectual pursuits, the sisters themselves were well educated and well traveled. All had studied abroad and Katharine graduated in the first class at Bryn Mawr. Theirs was not to be a mere finishing school. The Shipleys’ aim was: “to fit [the student] to enter college with a mind trained to habits of scientific study.” They also emphasized “character building.”
Waldron Mercy Academy
The vision of two Sisters of Mercy, Mother Catherine McAuley and Mother Mary Patricia Waldron, enabled the establishment of Waldron Mercy Academy and its sister high school, Merion Mercy Academy. Mother Catherine McAuley, an Irish heiress who dedicated her entire fortune to helping the poor in Dublin, founded the Sisters of Mercy in Ireland in 1831. In 1861, under the leadership of 26-year-old Mother Mary Patricia Waldron, the first ten Sisters of Mercy arrived in Philadelphia from Manchester, New Hampshire, to serve the poor, the sick and the uneducated.
The Move to Merion. In 1884, Mother Mary Patricia Waldron purchased the eight acre Baner property in Merion as a country retreat for sisters who became ill while ministering in the city. In 1885, the Sisters of Mercy acquired the adjoining Morgan estate, a 13-room stone homestead that served as St. Anne’s Convent, and a farmhouse which accommodated the Village School for poor, local farm children.
Separate Schools Established. In 1885, in this same convent, the Sisters of Mercy started Mater Misericordiae, an academy for young ladies and little boys under 12 years of age. By 1892, the academy facility was inadequate and a new building named Mater Misericordiae Academy was begun. The building had classrooms, accommodations for female boarding students and living quarters for the sisters. The male boarding students remained at St. Anne’s until 1923 when Waldron Academy for Boys was built on its site.
Further Developments. To meet the ever-evolving needs of students, significant growth and changes have taken place within the historic walls of Waldron Mercy Academy throughout the years. In 1946, the practice of boarding students ended. During the 1950s, in addition to the sisters, others joined the Waldron faculty in increasing numbers. A pre-school and a Montessori program followed, enrolling both boys and girls.
In September 1987, Waldron Academy for Boys and Merion Mercy Academy for Girls (Lower School) officially merged and reopened as Waldron Mercy Academy in a newly renovated facility. Today students from pre-school to eighth grade attend Waldron Mercy Academy, an educational ministry of the Sisters of Mercy, where academic excellence is achieved in the spirit of openness, trust, hospitality and outreach.