October 2013 American Archives Month : The Forrest-Gaul Mansion

In celebration of October as American Archives Month, Connelly Library will be sharing a series of posts throughout the month to highlight material from Moore’s Archives. The Moore College of Art and Design Archives documents the history of the college as well as the work and activities of our faculty and alumnae/i.

Exterior of school's home from 1880-1960. ca. 1937.

Broad & Master location. ca. 1937.

In 1880 the Philadelphia School of Design for Women (as the school was then named) moved into the Forrest-Gaul Mansion on the corner of Broad and Masters Streets in Philadelphia. With a steadily increasing student body, the school grew out of five other locations before purchasing the Forrest-Gaul Mansion with money acquired from the sale of its previous building. The property was bought for $45,000, with extensive additions and renovations increasing the cost to $103,000 and providing much needed expanded facilities.

Built ca. 1853, the mansion was originally constructed for the Philadelphia brewer William Gaul. It was bought by the Shakespearean actor Edwin Forrest in 1855 and remained in his possession until his death in 1872.

Exterior of school's home from 1880-1960.

Exterior of school’s home from 1880-1960.

Below, the Philadelphia School of Design for Women’s main office in 1919 with John Sartain’s furnishings. Formerly the reception room and library under the ownership of Edwin Forrest:

School's main office, 1919.

School’s main office, 1919.

Another interior, first floor of the school:

First floor, middle room. ca. 1915.

First floor, middle room. ca. 1915.

Students enjoying a meal in the cafeteria in 1929:

Cafeteria, 1929

The location at Broad and Master Streets also featured an enclosed courtyard where many activities were held. Below, a gathering in the courtyard. Professor Henry Snell can be seen with a raised hat in the center-background:

Gathering in courtyard.

Gathering in courtyard, undated.

Image of the graduation festivities held in the school’s courtyard on June 1st, 1927:

Graduation time, June 1, 1927.

Graduation time, June 1, 1927.

A class draws from a live model in the open air of the courtyard:

Courtyard - class

Drawing class, 1941.

After eighty years the need to expand once again prompted another move for the school. In 1960, after much construction and preparation, the then-named Moore Institute of Art, Science & Industry moved from the Forrest-Gaul Mansion to its current home on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at Logan Square. The Forrest-Gaul Mansion has since been placed on a number of historic registries and currently houses Philadelphia’s Freedom Theatre.

For more information on Moore’s history and past homes:

Design for women: a history of the Moore College of Art. Wynnewood, Pa. : Livingston Pub. Co., 1968.

Hoffman, Sharon G. Moore College of Art & Design. Charleston, SC : Arcadia Pub., 2008.

Walls, Nina de Angeli. Art, industry, and women’s education in Philadelphia.Westport, Conn. : Bergin & Garvey, 2001.

Interested in viewing more materials or using the Archives for your research? Patrons are granted access to the Archives by appointment. Contact the library at 215-965-4054 or library@moore.edu to schedule an appointment.

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1 Response to “October 2013 American Archives Month : The Forrest-Gaul Mansion”


  1. 1 Elisa October 9, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    Love the photographs


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