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Westtown Friends Boarding School

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1884, Addison Hutton. Westtown Rd., 2.5 miles east of U.S. 202 and 4 miles southeast of West Chester
  • Westtown Friends Boarding School
  • Westtown Friends Boarding School

Westtown Friends Boarding School was a creation of the last years of the eighteenth century as the Society of Friends increasingly separated themselves from their fellow citizens by providing separate education and, one suspects, a place for boys and girls of the regional community to meet in a safe, rural environment. The original building of 1799 followed Owen Biddle Sr.'s conceptual plan of 1790 and was perhaps designed by his son, Owen Jr., whose slightly later Arch Street Meetinghouse in Philadelphia ( PH6) showed the same broad Georgian proportions and simplified detail. With separate halves for boys and girls, dining rooms in the basement, classrooms on the first two stories, and dormitories on the upper story, it anticipated Haverford College's Founders’ Hall ( DE36.1). That building was replaced by Hutton, who, more than any architect, turned eighteenth-century Quaker plain style into a regional architectural fashion. Instead of the local stone of the original building, Hutton used Philadelphia red pressed brick, massed to describe the separate boys and girls division, with a vast array of bristling ventilation shafts that were hallmarks of dormitories in the late nineteenth century. Hutton provided ample pleasures including porches that give a domestic touch, but at the core his concentration was on function. The Quaker emphasis on function over aesthetics is perhaps most clearly seen in the lack of care over additions to the main building, most notably the unfortunate 1960s addition by Cope and Lippincott in the center of the long facade.

Writing Credits

George E. Thomas


What's Nearby


George E. Thomas, "Westtown Friends Boarding School", [West Chester, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Cover: Buildings of PA vol 2

Buildings of Pennsylvania: Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania, George E. Thomas, with Patricia Likos Ricci, Richard J. Webster, Lawrence M. Newman, Robert Janosov, and Bruce Thomas. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012, 248-249.

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