Central High School – Philadelphia PA


The present Central High School building in Philadelphia was constructed as a New Deal project. The Public Works Administration (PWA) provided a $1,084,950 grant for the project, which was undertaken in 1937-1938. PWA Docket No. PA [W]1549.

C.W. Short and R. Stanley-Brown:

The first Central High School in Philadelphia was built in 1838 and was the oldest high school in the United States outside of New England. It was replaced in 1844 and in 1900. This project replaces that erected in 1900.

The building provides an extensive administration suite including a doctor’s office, an infirmary, 28 classrooms, a lunch room for 1,000, a faculty lunch room for 60, a gymnasium, an auditorium with a capacity of 1,500, a library, and many art and science rooms and laboratories.

The front portion of the building is of structural steel with reinforced concrete construction. The library is finished in American walnut with an ornamental ceiling. The corridors have wainscots of marble or of tile.

The over-all dimensions are 369 by 262 feet. It was completed in September 1938 at a construction cost of $2,072,825 and a project cost of $2,461,444.

Source notes

National Archives: Record Group 135: Public Works Administration; Projects Control Division; Entry 52: Indices to Non-Federal Projects; Report No. 5: Status of All Completed Non-Federal Allotted Projects, page 34.

C.W. Short and R. Stanley-Brown. "Public Buildings: A Survey of Architecture of Projects Constructed by Federal and Other Governmental Bodies Between the Years 1933 and 1939 with the Assistance of the Public Works Administration." (1939).

Project originally submitted by Evan Kalish on March 18, 2018.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

1700 West Olney Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19141

Coordinates: 40.037427, -75.150068

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