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Germantown Academy (Germantown Union School)

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Germantown Union School
1761–1762, Jacob Knorr, master carpenter; 1879; 1892 gymnasium, Mantle Fielding. 110 School House Ln.
  • (Photograph by Matthew Aungst)
  • (HABS)
  • (HABS)
  • Schoolmaster’s house (HABS)
  • (Photograph by Matthew Aungst)
  • (Photograph by Matthew Aungst)

The German community of Germantown organized the school in 1759 and as an ecumenical gesture built the German and English masters’ (teachers’) houses on either side of the building at the same time. In plan and detail the school building was very much like a slightly oversized central-hall house with a stair in the hall and a single room with a centered fireplace on either side on the first and second floors. Walls of coursed ashlar on the main street facade and stuccoed rubble on the sides and rear were typical from “Grumblethorpe” ( PH153) to Knorr's next important project, “Cliveden” ( PH163). Apart from the greater than usual width, the differentiating element was the central belfry capped by a spire atop the gabled roof. The flanking schoolmaster's houses were part of the original complex and were joined two years later by the home of David Dove, a competing schoolmaster, who had formerly taught at Benjamin Franklin's Academy and Charitable School (later the University of Pennsylvania). The smaller Concord School at 6309 Germantown Avenue of 1775 was probably also built by Jacob Knorr for the English schoolchildren of upper Germantown; a similar academy still stands in Lower Merion ( MO3).

Writing Credits

George E. Thomas


What's Nearby


George E. Thomas, "Germantown Academy (Germantown Union School)", [Philadelphia, 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, 139-140.

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