Temple University Begins Demolition at William Penn High School

The nine-acre school campus stretches to Girard Avenue at its southern border, and will soon house athletic facilities and a job training center.

Image via Google Street View

Image via Google Street View

From the resurgence of the football program (and talks of a stadium in North Philadelphia) to the snafu with the marketing takeover of Cecil B. Moore Station, it’s safe to say that 2015 has been a busy year for Temple University.

Massive projects, such as the demolition of Barton Hall to make way for a shiny new library, are also starting to take shape, and we’re bringing your attention to one that may (or may not) have slipped your mind: the redevelopment of the shuttered William Penn High School.

Temple University purchased the hulking former high school for $15 million in 2014, and Brianna Spause of the Philadelphia Public School Notebook reports that crews are on site dismantling the building in a multi-phase process.

The Planning Commission gave Temple the green light for the demo work in February, and plans released earlier this year showed that the buildings will make way for athletic facilities and possibly an adult job-training center in partnership with the Laborers’ District Council (LDC) Education and Training Apprenticeship Fund.

For Temple, it marks the southern expansion of Main Campus, as the university continues to stretch its boundaries towards Girard Avenue, the high school site’s southern border. For the residents of North Philadelphia (and former students), the demolition marks the official end of a long battle to save the high school from the wrecking ball and preserve it for community use.

The site, which totals nine acres, is an assemblage of four buildings (including a gymnasium with a pool) and contains an underground garage for about 200 parking spaces. Phase one will see the east side of the site razed and then redeveloped. In phase two, the Broad Street side of the building will come down.

“We had hoped to keep some of the original structure, but due to the condition of the buildings we decided it was best to demolish the original structures and begin construction of a new site,” said Dozie Ibeh, assistant vice president of Temple’s Project Delivery Group, in November.

The estimated cost of the new building is $22 million.