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Monday, March 19, 2018

The Historic Old William Penn High School in Harrisburg

Former William Penn High School in Harrisburg Pennsylvania
The former William Penn High School is located in uptown Harrisburg across from Italian Lake. If you head to Division and Third Street, you'll see it sitting up on a hill overlooking Italian Lake and within walking distance of the Zembo Shrine. From what I read online, it's currently for sale and expected to sell for multi-millions.

One of the things that really impressed me about this old building is its architecture. As soon as you walk up to it you'll see these large columns which reminds me of some of the architecture we saw on old buildings when touring Italy several years ago.

Right out front you'll find a historical marker that gives you the history on this old building. Here's what it says.
Former William Penn High School in Harrisburg Historical Marker

Former William Penn High School

The simultaneous completion of Harrisburg's two state-of-the-art high schools in September of 1926 represented a milestone in the deliverance of quality public education to a city which had grown so rapidly in the first quarter of the 20th century that even the new schools built between 1890 and 1910 were rendered inadequate. Situated here is the former William Penn High School, beloved campus of thousands of Harrisburg alumni. It was the mate to the city's other secondary educational facility located at the eastern end, the former John Harris High School. When they opened, both schools represented an early and progressive shift from the older urban, schoolhouse environment to the kind of comprehensively planned campuses of secondary education which are being built today. Situated on a bluff that for years had been a favored place of recreational outings for Harrisburg citizens and known as Hoffman's Woods, the $1.7 million school offered views of the Susquehanna River and mountains beyond. It also became a fitting backdrop to the emerging Italian Lake Park, completing the idyllic setting as a place of learning and for extracurricular activities. Designed by Harrisburg architect Charles Howard Lloyd through a stiff architectural competition sponsored by the School Board, the building went through a number of design themes until the columned, neoclassical alternative was settled upon. William Penn High School served the city's youth who resided west of Cameron Street until 1972 when it was merged with John Harris to form the Harrisburg High School. the William Penn Campus now serves as the Harrisburg School District's Career and Technology Academy and alternative education program site offering specialized training necessary to contribute to an educated and qualified workforce.
Former William Penn High School in Harrisburg Pennsylvania

I bet this building was the "cream of the crop" back when it first opened and its a shame that it isn't being utilized today. As far as I can tell, it appears to be vacant, even though the marker stated that it was being used by the school district for other purposes. I can just imagine what it looks like inside and really wish they would open it up for tours. It's a magnificent building that was built shortly after the turn of the 20th century.
Former William Penn High School in Harrisburg Pennsylvania

If you enjoy checking out old inner city and urban buildings for their architectural features and if you're going to be in the uptown Harrisburg area...swing on by the old William Penn High School and take a look. While you're there, take a leisurely stroll around Italian Lake too!

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