Phillips School – History Mystery, June 2015

Wellesley High School graduates, class of 1897, in front of Wellesley High School.

June 15, 2015 – Question

On June 5, Wellesley High School celebrated the graduation of over 300 students. Let’s hope this year’s graduates looked more excited than this group from the Wellesley High School class of 1897! The students are seated in front of Wellesley’s first dedicated high school, built in 1893. Only in use as a high school until 1907, this building still exists today and has been repurposed over the years. Can you guess which building this is and its current use? Bonus points if you can identify the principal seen in profile! Return on June 30th to find out the answer!

June 30, 2015 – Answer

The Wellesley High School pictured above and below was the first building in Wellesley designed to be a high school and is located at 324 Washington Street, at the corner of Seaward Road.  Previous high school students had to share school buildings with younger grades and even utilized multipurpose buildings such as Maugus Hall and Waban Hall.  Built in 1893  and designed by Harwell and Richardson, this school was quickly outgrown.  A new high school was built in 1907 on Kingsbury Street and the old 1893 high school building became an intermediate school.   Another building was added behind the intermediate school in 1910  and the entire complex was named the Alice L. Phillips School in 1912  after a beloved local teacher.  The Phillips School was converted to a junior high in 1919  and was in use until 1952.  After the new junior high was opened in 1952 on Kingsbury Street, the former Phillips School buildings held town offices for a time.   Although the 1910 building was torn down, the 1893 building on Washington Street remains and is now an apartment complex for senior citizens known as Phillips Park.
The gentleman in profile is Seldon L. Brown, longtime principal and teacher at Wellesley High School from 1886 to1916.   Well-liked by the students, he was affectionately known as “Pa” Brown.

Kathleen Fahey, Curator of the Wellesley Historical Society

Wellesley High School, 1893-1907, Intermediate Building, 1907-1912, renamed Phillips School in 1912.  Image dates from 1893-1907.