Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (PSD) was founded in 1820 as the third school of its kind in the nation and has become a leading resource in the field of Deaf Education.
Founded by Philadelphia merchant, David Seixas, the first principal, PSD held its first classes in his private home on Market Street, west of 16th Street.
About a year later, PSD relocated to a building on the southeast corner of Eleventh and Market Streets. The renowned Deaf Frenchman Laurent Clerc, who sailed to America with Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, became PSD’s second principal in 1821. Prior to PSD, he along with Gallaudet and Dr. Mason Cogswell, founded the American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Connecticut, in 1817.
In 1825, PSD moved to its first official school building, at the corner of Broad and Pine Streets. The site is now occupied by the University of the Arts, and PSD classes were held in what is presently Haviland Hall.
Almost seventy years later, in 1892, the school moved again. Mt. Airy had a spacious thirty-three acre property. Fourteen buildings were constructed to accommodate all students and staff. PSD resided there for 92 years, until declining enrollment and related economic factors required that the school relocate.
In 1984, PSD purchased its current home, the former Germantown Academy Campus, and completely renovated it while preserving its unique historic character. Many of the buildings on PSD’s Germantown campus have a rich history. Some date from the Revolutionary War times, when the school was used as a hospital during the Battle of Germantown. Six British soldiers are reportedly buried on the campus. During the Yellow Fever epidemic in Philadelphia in 1792, both the Pennsylvania State Assembly and the U.S. Congress took refuge in PSD’s buildings. President George Washington also set up a temporary office in the Administration Building and held cabinet meetings there.
After settling down on the Germantown Campus, PSD has continued a tradition of excellence in Deaf Education.