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Baldwin School (Bryn Mawr Hotel)

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Bryn Mawr Hotel
1889–1890, Furness, Evans and Co.; c. 1980 restored, Hyman Myers, Vitetta Group. Montgomery and Morris aves.
  • Baldwin School (Bryn Mawr Hotel) (Richard W. Longstreth)
  • Baldwin School (Bryn Mawr Hotel) (Richard W. Longstreth)

After an earlier hotel by Wilson Brothers burned, Frank Furness built a successor on the original site. The conical red shingle roof above the projecting semicylindrical entrance bay of the Bryn Mawr Hotel is capped by an immense weathervane that was intended to be visible to arriving guests from the nearby station of the Pennsylvania Railroad, the hotel's builder. The weathervane and front tower still dominate the facade, but the building is now approached through a splendid twentieth-century classical iron and stone gate that passes across a deep green which frames the view of Furness's immense pile and provides access to the original driveway. The long facade of local stone with brick arches above the windows recalls regional industrial practice, but it is given domestic character by a screen of porches along the lower levels. These are interrupted by the projecting bay that contains an entrance hall at the first floor with lounges on the upper levels that offer views of the parklike setting. The first-floor lobby and main dining rooms are clad with Furness's simplified oak paneling, giving an expected note of luxury, but the main staircase is a tribute to the region's industrial culture with unadorned steel stringers riveted together. Late-nineteenth-century Philadelphia industrialists reveled in contemporary life.

In the mid-1890s, the building was leased to the Misses Baldwin for their school for young women. Then, in the 1920s, the railroad sold the building to the school, which has since carefully and judiciously added to its complex, screening new construction to the rear of the main building while conscientiously preserving the front lawns as a contribution to their community.

Just west at Yarrow and Morris avenues is the Shipley School (1906, Baily and Bassett) founded by the Misses Shipley as another school for young women; it has recently become coeducational. Its Colonial Revival red brick buildings play on the colonial history of the region and its later translation into the domestic architecture of the early twentieth century.

Writing Credits

George E. Thomas


What's Nearby


George E. Thomas, "Baldwin School (Bryn Mawr Hotel)", [Bryn Mawr, 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, 192-193.

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