Lower Merion Academy: A Legend in Learning


lithograph: Residence of John Bartram

We have examined the events that led to the beginning of the Academy through primary documents as a way of understanding the motives for the bequest of Jacob Jones and others.

Through 18th and 19th century sources we have shown how the ideals of Jacob Jones were rooted in Quakerism and how Jacob, through his will and his vision of a free school, was able to accomplish what contemporary Pennsylvania laws could not do.

We have also learned, through the Trustees’ Minute Book, just how difficult it was to start the Academy and the effort it took to keep it going. We comprehend the pivotal role that Algernon Roberts played as administrator of the three wills and as a dedicated Trustee. We witnessed how our present-day public school system began, with the Academy as a keystone in the Township school system. It is amazing how one building and its early history connects the history of our community, past and present!

A horse-drawn carriage pulls up in front of the Academy
Early erngraving of the Lower Merion Academy as it appeared on John Levering’s 1851 map. Despite a few alterations over the years, the building’s architectural integrity remains.

Research and Text: Jo Anne Debes
Design: Dick Jones
Scanner: Sigrid Berkner