The School Community: Germantown, PA

Vanessa Brown

Germantown High School was built on a piece of land that formerly served as the southernmost point of engagement between the British Army and the American continental Army during the Battle of Germantown in 1777. It is surrounded by a precarious mix of eighteenth and twentieth century buildings, which speak of the rich history of the community. The 1st YWCA to allow for integrated swimming sits across the street...

The Germantown community, founded in 1683 by Francis Daniel Pastorious, is home to The Johnson House, one of the only documented Pennsylvania stops of the Underground Railroad. It is where the first anti-slavery protest was held in 1688; long before the abolitionist movement was borne. The first YWCA to allow for integrated swimming sits across the street from the school and the village of Germantown was the first to pass legislation to allow for integrated housing patterns.

This 5700 acre “German Township," lay 6 miles northwest of Philadelphia and was originally home to 13 Quaker families from Krefeld, Germany. William Penn wanted to use the land as part of a “holy experiment” for religious freedom. Francis Daniel Pastorious acted as the land grant agent of the German Society and later the Frankfort Co, and helped the small village grow into a vibrant and productive suburb of the city.

Why then, would [people] who had suffered oppression oppress
those ‘who are of a black colour?’

Along with its neighboring village, Mt. Airy, Germantown is known for the diversity of its inhabitants--economically, socially and ethically. Its main commercial strip, Germantown Avenue (formerly Germantown Road; boldly used by American troops to position themselves for battle against the British who occupied, the still standing, Cliveden Estate) has several businesses owned and operated by African Americans, Asians, Orientals, Latinos, Germans and others.

Germantown and Mt Airy are now incorporated parts of Philadelphia. Germantown Avenue parallels another historic road, Ridge Pike, and serves as one of the areas longest north-south thoroughfares; extending from North Central Philadelphia to Montgomery County.

Many of these businesses now serve as a dichotomy in our effort to push students forward to educational achievement and social responsibility. They provide both opportunities for employment as well as a lure to students who cut classes or skip school.