In 1888, Miss Florence Baldwin founded the "Miss Baldwin's School for Girls, Preparatory for Bryn Mawr College" in her mother's house at the corner of Montgomery and Morris Avenues. Thirteen girls were enrolled in the first class. The establishment of the school was frowned upon by many as a "preposterous extravagance" because in the latter part of the nineteenth century the education of a woman still was considered not only unnecessary but also potentially dangerous.
In 1871, the Pennsylvania Railroad built the original Bryn Mawr Hotel on the site that is now called the Baldwin Residence. In 1887, before a fire engine could arrive by train, and despite the heroic efforts of the dining room waiters, the building burned to the ground. By 1892, it was replaced by the current five-story chateau-style structure designed by Frank Furness, a Philadelphia architect.
In 1896, Miss Baldwin leased the hotel for the winter months. By 1912, because the hotel was no longer able to attract enough guests, it was leased year-round to The Baldwin School. In 1922, the school purchased the hotel and the accompanying 25 acres for $240,000.
Though the grandeur of the hotel is still very evident, the school continues to evolve with the changing needs of our students. Within three years of its purchase of the grounds, the Baldwin School added the Schoolhouse that now houses the Middle and Upper Schools. The golf course is now the hockey field, while the lily pond has become a softball diamond. A wooden gymnasium was added in 1923 and an indoor pool was built in 1929-30. In 1939, the drama workshop opened in what was once a livery stable.
Over the next half-century, more additions came, including a larger gymnasium, a Lower School building, and a house for the Head of School. A three-story science building was opened in 1961 and enlarged in 1995 to accommodate the growing number of girls interested in studying the sciences. In 1974, when the last boarder graduated, the residents' rooms were converted into 21 apartments for faculty and staff. In 1979, the Bryn Mawr Hotel, now the Residence of The Baldwin School, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The front steps and the porch were restored in 1982, and in 1986, the old kitchen was renovated into a spectacular art studio. A total renovation of the Schoolhouse and the creation of an Early Childhood Center for Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten girls were completed in 1998. In 2000, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission also recognized the historical significance of the school and its architect by erecting a Pennsylvania Historical Marker on campus.
In the fall of 2008, Baldwin opened a new 48,000 square-foot eco-friendly Athletic Center
. The center includes a six-lane pool, a one and one-half basketball/volleyball court, an indoor jogging track, a fitness center, four squash courts, a multipurpose room, locker rooms and offices. Also added were five tennis courts and a playing field.
Today, there are more than 4,000 Baldwin alumnae, and they live in nearly every state of the United States and in many foreign countries. As a college preparatory school for girls in Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade, Baldwin sends all of its graduates on to higher education. Seniors choose such colleges and universities as Harvard, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Princeton, Yale, Brown, Stanford, Williams, Wellesley, Vassar, the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania.
Baldwin still honors the aims set by Miss Baldwin, adapting them to the needs of today. The school's strong commitment to remaining a single-sex institution assures students the opportunity to develop competence and confidence in assuming leadership roles. Because Baldwin students come from many racial, ethnic and economic backgrounds, the school also is committed to the development of its students both as individuals and as responsible members of a community.