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Two generations of Boothroyd and Goodyear children attended the West End elementary school at 60th and Cedar. West End School No. 2, which opened in 1903, supplemented an older school building next to the site. Archival photos suggest that the two buildings were joined in 1913, the year the school was enlarged and renamed William Cullen Bryant School.

In 1969, West Philadelphia High School’s enrollment was 99 percent African American, with some 3,800 students packed into a building whose capacity was 2,400. The high school’s principal, Walter Scott, saw the Free School as a means both to reduce overcrowding at WPHS and to outsource the main building’s disruptive students, especially its gang members. 

This contemporary photo shows House One of the Free School fifty years after the alternative school opened. Straddling the corner of Walnut and 39th street, 3833 Walnut is still owned by the School District of Philadelphia. 

Novella Williams was the legendary president of the grassroots organization Citizens for Progress. In the scattered-site Free School’s first year of operation, Williams and her conservative allies on the school’s community board opposed the annexes’ free-wheeling progressive orientation and their idealistic White teachers. Demanding a traditional academic curriculum grounded in fixed rules and regulations, Williams and her allies forced the removal of Aase Eriksen as Free School director and her replacement with Ola Taylor, a traditional administrator. 

Drexel's plan for 1970 development expanded the school's campus into RDA Unit 5, part of the University Redevelopment Area.

House Three, located at 4226 Baltimore Avenue, was acquired in the spring of 1970.

House Two, located at 3625 Walnut Street, was initially used while House One was prepared for occupancy and was later approved as the location for the second house.

House One, located at 3833 Walnut Street, opened in February 1970.

University Redevelopment Area Unit 3 came to represent the divide between university and community after residents were displaced as part of the creation of the University City Science Center.