The First 300

Episcopal Academy

The Episcopal Academy’s 1887 location on Fourth Street, between Market and Chestnut, in Philadelphia.

The Episcopal Academy was founded in 1785 by the Right Reverend William White, the first Episcopal Bishop of Pennsylvania. Among its charter trustees were leading citizens of Philadelphia and signers of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. The school stressed both a classical education (Latin and Greek) and more practical study (business mathematics). The original campuses were in the city of Philadelphia and, after World War I, their quarters seemed more suitable for a hotel or an office building. Should they merge with another school? Should they move? The decision was made in 1921 to purchase John O. Gilmore’s 19-acre estate Yorklynne along City Avenue, then an unpaved country lane. The academy has, over the years, expanded to 32 acres and features a number of classroom buildings; athletic fields; a library-learning center; theatre, music and art facilities; a high-tech computer facility, and two gymnasiums. Episcopal offers college preparatory education for more than 1,000 girls and boys from junior kindergarten through the twelfth grade.

Fall of 1882, the academy’s football team practice on the University of Pennsylvania field.
Sketch class, 1921, theater and cafeteria in background.
Late 1890s view of Gilmore’s Yorklynne estate, before the academy’s relocation.
The Forestry Club poses in the rear of Yorklynne, 1951.
Dietrich House, 1904 Tudor style mansion along Latches Lane, was the former residence of Dr. Albert Barnes. The Dietrich Foundation aided Episcopal in the purchase of the estate. After extensive remodelling, the building has housed lower school classrooms since 1961.
Christ Chapel was designed by noted architect Vincent Kling. Opened in 1962, Academy students attend service three times a week and a special lower school service is held once a week.
The Roger Annenberg Memorial Library Learning Center, designed by Mirick, Pearson, Batchelor in 1972, is the central core of Episcopal’s Main Building which houses its middle and upper schools.
Upper school students are “Big Brothers” and “Big Sisters” to lower schoolers, a project of the nationally recognized Community Service program.