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506 Bryn Mawr Ave

Date of Construction: 1812-13
Original Architect: Joseph Price and Nathan Bishop
Original Owner:
Description of the Resource: The Lower Merion Academy is a two-and-a-half-story Federal schoolhouse. Construction began in 1812 under the direction of master builders Joseph Price and Nathan Lewis. The building was designed for use as both a school and residence for the schoolmaster and his family. In 1834, when the public school system was organized in Lower Merion Township, the Academy became one of six schools considered to be part of the district. The gable-roof structure is constructed of stone with a stucco finish (originally pebble-dashed). The five-bay front (south) fašade has a symmetrical has a central inset door framed with a triangular pediment broken by a semi-circular fanlight. The door is reached by a series of stone steps to a large stone terrace bordered by iron railings. The asphalt-shingled roof had three pedimented dormers on each side, end chimneys and a cupola with slatted Venetian windows, copper roof, copper finial and weathervane. The rear (north) fašade has a one-story porch with a low hipped roof and four pairs of Doric columns. The north, east and west facades have irregular window arrangements. As of the 1988 PHMC Survey, the interior retained many original features, including wainscoting, fireplace mantels (though some have been moved), and the staircase and balustrade. The three rooms in the attic had never been remodeled and retained their 19th century character. The most significant alterations occurred in 1938-1939 when the Bala Cynwyd Middle School opened. A Colonial Revival remodeling by Savery, Scheetz and Gilmour involved adding the front stone terracing (the entry was originally approached by a single set of steps), adding the pediment around the front door (which was originally simply arched), replacing windows, and adding a third window bay in the gable end. The building stands between the elementary school and the middle school and now houses the Lower Merion Historical Society. (10/2012)
Class: 1
Street Classification:
Name of Local Historic District: Not in a local district
Name of National Historic District: Not applicable
Reviewed By: Historical Commission
Inventory Index Number: BC057

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