The Lower Merion Benevolent
School, as the Academy was
was originally named, opened its doors to students of both sexes on
November 1, 1813.
Girls were taught reading, writing, arithmetic, English grammar and plain
The boys were taught reading, writing, English grammar, Vulgar and Decimal
Tuition was three dollars per quarter "with a reasonable compensation for
firewood and stationery..."
Master Joshua Hoopes informed the parents and students about the "Rules" of
- No student would be admitted if
he/she had a contagious disease;
- Vacations occur every other seventh
day, or Saturday, and for two weeks
- Parents who did not send their
children regularly were to pay as if
- No student was to leave the school
without the teacher's permission;
- No use of profane or obscene
language was permitted;
- No writing or injury to school property (especially walls or
- Prizes were to be purchased by
parents/guardians of the children to
whom they were awarded. Prizes
were given each quarter to those
"scholars" showing "superior improvement."
Those rules are very similar to those of modern schools.
The Trustees held quarterly examinations of the students with their
parents, guardians, or masters present. Attendance was often poor.
The girls school was closed for a time in 1814 due to declining enrollment.
Subscription money to sustain a teacher was therefore lessened. Girls'
tuition was lowered to $2.50 per quarter. The Trustees added to the
subscription money to help the shortfall.
A new teacher, Mary Passmore, was hired on a one-year contract for the
girls school...subscription money plus $30 per quarter, provided by the
"...the additional salary as money well
expended, hoping that in a future day
(not long distant), the credit of the
school will be so established as to
inable a teacher to be [totally] supported by... subscription money..."
The next quarterly examination on February 22, 1815 was better attended.
The Trustees hoped more regular attendance by parents would aid them in
"...the system of managing the schools
by pointing out any errors in its present management or such as may
Another problem for the Trustees
seemed to be the "opposition" mentioned in the Minute Book.
"For its with much concern the [Trustees] view the uncandid and illiberal
Opposition carried on in Order not
only to Injure so Benevolent an Institution but to deprive the
neighbourhood of the advantages that might
arise had less pains been taken to
support the Institution that has been
taken to oppse it and maligne its
The opposition might have been neighbors who felt that Jacob's money should
have gone to Quaker projects instead of a project that benefitted the
community. The first Trustees would be proud to know the "opposition" did
not win, and the Institution continued to serve the community for 184 years