Delorean Time Machine: Watson Primary School is Now Much More Stylish

Philadelphia Style Magazine… home to Philadelphia’s well-heeled debutantes, its immaculately groomed beautiful people, its denizens of the finer things.  The high society print publication, founded in 1998 and reaching a circulation of roughly 70,000 readers, is headquartered on the quiet Queen Village block of League Street between Front & 2nd.

Philly Style HQ

One hundred years ago, the magazine’s headquarters at 141 League St. would have been abuzz with schoolchildren, presuming that early 20th century schoolchildren were allowed to buzz.  League Street, which was known as Mary Street until around the turn of the century, was the site of the Watson Primary School.  Also called the Mary Street School by those in the Southwark neighborhoods surrounding it, the school is identified in John Trevor Custis’ 1897 text, The Public Schools of Philadelphia as “the oldest school in the Section [having been] erected about the middle of the present century and . . . named in honor of Samuel F. Watson, who was among the first public school masters in Philadelphia.” (p. 297)

Back in 1908

Before moving to the building shown in the Philadelphia Department of Records image here above (1908), the children of the Watson School attended their classes in the ‘upper stories of the Southwark Engine House of the Old Volunteer Fire Department.’  One might assume the frequency of bells and alarms created much confusion for students and firefighters alike.

Back in 1875

As the image taken from G.M. Hopkins’ 1875 Philadelphia Atlas shows, the school was positioned directly across the street from the Miller & Strien Coal Yard.  Not sure what today’s zoning board or PTA would have to say about the school’s proximity to big industry.  In either event, the Coal Yard outlasted the school, and is visible as recently as this 1962 Land Use Map produced by the Works Progress Administration.  Today, the Coal Yard’s former space is occupied by the Society Hill Beverage beer distributor.

And in 1962
Unfortunately, nothing good was on sale today

–David Tomar