Frankford’s Million Dollar High School

Below is a photo taken of the then newly built Frankford High School from one of the many archived news articles at the Historical Society of Frankford.  I would wager the article is from 1916 since we know they began construction in 1915.  A fact I didn’t know was that the school was built as an annex to Central High School.

frankford's-million-dollar-high-school

Below Is the trowel used for the laying of the cornerstone currently located at the HSofF.

frankford-high-school-cornerstone-trowel

The inscription reads:

CORNER STONE LAYING

FRANKFORD HIGH SCHOOL

STONE LAID BY FRANKLIN SMEDLEY

FEBRUARY 27TH 1915

But check out the note reading “trowel made by Henry Disston and Sons.”  The Disston Saw Works was a plant over to east by the Delaware River in Tacony.  In fact Henry Disston built the houses in Tacony for his workers pretty much all by himself. Check out this article from former Lincoln High School principle Dr Harry Silcox about Disston and the Tacony he built. I think it’s very telling that while Frankford was at it’s industrial zeneth, Henry Disston and Sons was still the choice to make the ceremonial trowel.  In fact, we at the Gazette hold him in such high esteem that we headed over the Hidden City exhibit over at his saw works a few months ago.

And who was this Franklin Smedley who was honored by laying the stone?  Well save his story for later.  Check out other posts in our series here.

[link] Historical Society of Frankford


The information in this post was compiled with the help of Debbie Klak, current member and former president of the Historical Society of Frankford.

HSF collects, preserves and presents the history of Northeast Philadelphia and the region. Recognizing the neighborhood of Frankford as the historic and geographic gateway to the region, HSF documents and interprets the history of the people, places, events and traditions of the greater Northeast Philadelphia area and serves as an advocate for the preservation of the region’s historic resources. Through its collections and programs HSF provides opportunities for its members, the surrounding community, and the general public to explore and appreciate the history of Northeast Philadelphia and its place in the world.

  • crazymommy

    Very interesting! I wonder how many students were intended to go to that school? Was it built to house the large number of students there today?

  • Jim

    Yeah I dunno, I found it really interesting in trying to pull some info about the school together that google wasn’t really helpful with any history. It looks like one would have to sift through the HSF to find more info.

    It definitely wasn’t built to accommodate as many students as today due to the fact that if you look at the old pic, it doesn’t have the two additions built onto either side of it that are there today.