History of Linden Hall

Linden Hall has a continuous and unbroken history of educating young women since 1746, and is the oldest residential school for the education of young women in the country.

Linden Hall traces its beginnings to a school of humble proportions projected in 1746. In November of that year, the Moravian Church broke ground for their Gemeinhaus, which according to Moravian usage of the time served as a chapel, a schoolhouse, and parsonage combined. Both boys and girls were educated in the Gemeinhaus. The Moravians were among the first to offer an education to young women, stemming from the belief in universal education - that young women should be as thoroughly educated as young men.

For almost two decades, the school was "continued in simple and sturdy sincerity of purpose at the original site," according to a congregation diary dated April 20, 1758, which included the statement that there were from "70 to 77 children in the school." In 1766, the original building was taken down (being built of logs) and re-erected on one of the lots opposite the Moravian church.

The girls' school was continued in the Sisters' House - known today as "the Castle, " while the boys' school was closely related to the Brethren's House. The school's "slowly expanding influence" was reflected in church diaries which refer to girls from Moravian families in Lancaster as entering pupils. It is not unlikely that there were others from other places, for soon increasing demands seemed to justify the erection of a new building for the girls' school and in May 1769, the cornerstone for the new school was laid. The original building is presently known as Stengel Hall and houses our administrative offices.

The first non-Moravian boarding student, Ms. Margaret (Peggy) Marvel, from Baltimore, Maryland arrived in 1794 followed by young women from other cities outside Pennsylvania. For many years, Linden Hall cited its founding as 1794. In 1909, however, the founding date of the school was changed from 1794 to 1746 upon discovery of an old ledger from Washington's first administration. This discovery spurred an investigation by school officers to determine the exact date of the founding of Linden Hall and in 1910 the founding date was changed to reflect 1746 - the year the original Gemeinhaus was conceived.

According to a 1909 Echo article (reprinted from the Bethlehem Times) "it has long been recognized that with the Moravians, the Church and the School go hand-in-hand. In the case of Lititz and Linden Hall the school even preceded the church." According to Abraham Beck, a well known archivist of the Lititz congregation of the Moravian Church, "The Warwick, afterward Lititz, congregation was a 'Land Gemeine,' that is a country congregation, the members of which lived scattered on their farms and not in close settlement as was the case in Bethlehem and Nazareth. The daughters of the members of this Land Gemeine, therefore, on account of the distance from their homes boarded at the school." Based on the discovery of the ledger, Beck expressed himself as certain that Linden Hall was a boarding school long before 1794 and the date was changed to 1746.

In 1883, the name of the school was changed from Lititz Seminary to Linden Hall. Under the leadership of the Reverend Eugene Frueauff, the main school building was enlarged. The Reverend and his wife planted the basswood saplings, also known as linden trees, on campus and changed the name of the school to Linden Hall.

From the beginning, Linden Hall has been a place where girls are valued and known. Throughout our storied 270 year history, the principles of the Moravian Church - that a girl should develop a love of knowledge in order to reach her fullest potential, that learning takes place through the senses, and that older students can be role models for younger ones - have provided the tenets of educational continuity that has allowed Linden Hall to stand on a firm foundation and evolve to match contemporary times.

Click here for the article from the October, 1909 edition of the Echo.

Click here for a larger image of Linden Hall's historical timeline.