Tuomi’s Time Machine: MLK Milestone

A neighborhood high school approaches its 50th anniversary.

A diagram of MLK, drafted by John Carl Warnecke and Associates, and the George M. Ewing Company. The architects designed the facility to accommodate up to 4,000 students. Photo credit: Associated Alumni of Martin Luther King High Archives (click here for more info)

The arrival of September can signal only one thing: the beginning of yet another school year for school children all over Philadelphia and the country.

For those at Martin Luther King High School located at 6100 Stenton Avenue, the coming year will be a particularly important one as 50 years ago next year, a groundbreaking ceremony was held on the property which would be developed with the High School.

Martin Luther King High School would be the first in the country named in honor of the late Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King and its construction would last several years.

The photograph taken on May 21, 1970 (by Helen Bauhauf of 352 Church Lane, Germantown), shows the groundbreaking ceremony with Reverend Henry H. Nichols, Vice President of the Philadelphia Board of Education, digging the first shovelful of earth.

With him are (from left to right) Pennsylvania Senator Louis G. Hill, District Superintendent Bernard G. Kelner, Germantown High School Student Association President Byron Watson, Board of Education member William Ross, and Germantown High School Principal Santee C. Ruffin, Jr.

Once completed, the proposed school would appear as shown in the diagram, drafted by John Carl Warnecke and Associates, and the George M. Ewing Company. The architects designed the facility to accommodate up to 4,000 students with space for an extensive music and arts program; vocational-technical training, including an auto repair shop; varied physical education and sports programs; and a wide range of academic disciplines.

(NOTE: When Germantown HS closed in 2013 it merged into MLK, causing King’s student body to increase to 1,178 for the 2013-2014 school year.)

MLK High graduated its first class in 1977 and some of its notable alumni include rappers Eve, and Mega Ran; others include professional basketball player Stefon Jackson, and Grammy award winner Ready Rock C.

About the Time Machine

This regular series goes back in time with Tuomi Forrest, Executive Director of Historic Germantown, as he picks some of his favorite images from the Germantown Historical Society’s extensive collection. Alex Bartlett, Librarian and Archivist of the Germantown Historical Society/Historic Germantown, writes the columns, bringing photos from the distant past to life.

About Historic Germantown

Historic Germantown (HG) is a partnership of 18 historic houses, destinations, and museums that have joined together to protect, preserve, and share some of the area’s prized cultural assets.

HG manages the Germantown Historical Society archives and a collection of over 50,000 items; for more information, visit Germantownhistory.org or Freedomsbackyard.com. Located at 5501 Germantown Ave.

About Alex Bartlett 3 Articles
Librarian and archivist Alex Bartlett combines his hobbies with his career. Working for the Germantown historical society, Bartlett manages the libraries’ collection and archives, while also helping to provide visitors with requested research documents. Alex is a self-described “history nerd,” with interests in archeology and old bottles and glassware. He said that growing up in Germantown is what initially stimulated his enthusiasm toward historical documents and objects, and his job manages to integrate all of his interests into one field.

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