Lower Merion Academy: A Legend in Learning

The Academy

historic marker: 'Lower Merion Academy founded 1812 by Jacob Jones'

The Lower Merion Academy is located at 501 Bryn Mawr Avenue in Bala-Cynwyd. The building is situated to the side of the Bala-Cynwyd Middle School.

So many times parents have gone to outdoor school events and wondered why someone had a “house” built near the schools. Rather it was the schools that were built near the “house.” The Academy has stood there since 1812-1813 when it was built by Joseph Price and Nathan Lewis, who were local carpenters. The elementary and middle schools and surrounding school areas were built on the same piece of land as the Academy because by 1914 the Academy became too small to hold the expanding population of neighborhood children. Today the Academy is still used for educational purposes.

To understand the history of the Lower Merion Academy, several topics will be examined. The bequest of Jacob Jones and others gave the impetus to establish a free school which predated the state laws for public schools (1834-1836).

academy property highlighted on 1896 map
Detail of “Atlas of Lower Merion” published by A.H. Mueller, Philadelphia in 1896 showing the area around the Academy as Academyville.
class photo
Class photo, late 1890s on the side of the Academy.