In 1809, the Committee of Education of the Pennsylvania Abolition Society decided to build its own school for black children at Cherry Street between Sixth and Seventh Streets. In 1812, it erected a building 26 that could accomodate 130 students named Clarkson Hall, after the British abolitionist Thomas Clarkson. The school opened in 1813 with an enrollment of 94 boys of elementary school age. Another school for 50 girls was operated independently by a female teacher, Elizabeth Clendenin, with some small assistance from the PAS. Clarkson Hall housed different schools over the years —–a boys’ school, a girls’ school, several night schools, a First Day school, and briefly, in 1831, a high school—but it also served as headquarters for the PAS for many years until it was sold in 1864.

Floor plan of Clarkson Hall