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William Penn High School demolition begins

William Penn high school demolition.
Brianna Spause

This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.

William Penn High School is finally coming down. A walk or drive past the site, which covers nine acres in North Philadelphia, is a reminder that the fight to save and revitalize William Penn is really over.

Community leaders, education activists, William Penn alumni, and some District officials fought long and hard to save the historic North Philadelphia school. Former Superintendent Arlene Ackerman even promised that the school would reopen as a career and technical education school after the School Reform Commission had already voted in 2009 to shutter the building.

But all of these efforts failed, and the school was permanently closed in 2010 and sold to Temple University for $15 million in 2014. The first phase of demolition of the building, at Broad and Thompson Streets, began in October.

Temple has reported that the university plans to level the school in two phases. Phase 1 will include demolishing the east side of the campus by February 2016. Temple Athletics will redevelop the space into an athletic complex that will house soccer, field hockey, lacrosse, and track and field teams by the fall 2016 season. Two fields, a small locker room, and bleachers will also fill the space.

Phase 2 will include removal of the west side of the campus, which faces Broad between Master and Thompson Streets. The university has not yet released specific details, but they plan to partner with the Laborers’ District Council (LDC) Education and Training Apprenticeship Fund to redevelop the space into an adult job-training academy focused on the construction trade.

Brianna Spause is an intern at the Notebook.

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