La Salle College High School is a Roman Catholic college preparatory school enlivened by the tradition of Lasallian education developed by St. John Baptist De La Salle, founder of the Christian Brothers. The De La Salle Christian Brothers have run La Salle College High School since its birth.
La Salle has long had an important role in the life of Philadelphia and its metropolitan area, producing leaders in the Church, the community and the Nation. La Salle alumni have included such varied figures as a Secretary of the Navy, the co-founder of Cisco Systems, the Concertmaster of the Philadelphia Orchestra, two members of the NBA Hall of Fame, a Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, the Commander of the United States Atlantic Surface Fleet, the CEOs or COOs of the American Red Cross, Verizon Communications, Rayovac, Air Products and Chemicals, and the Dr. Pepper Company, the Commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Force, the United States’ Chief Technical Negotiator of the Strategic Arms Limitations Treaty, and countless priests and Brothers throughout the United States.
La Salle began at the St. Michael’s School at Second and Jefferson Streets in Philadelphia. The Christian Brothers opened a school there and taught their first classes on July 20, 1858. Initially known as the “Select School,” it eventually took the name “ Christian Brothers Academy.” In 1863, the Academy became the college preparatory division of what was then La Salle College.
In 1867, La Salle moved to Juniper and Filbert Streets. Within a few years, greater space needs compelled a move to broader, greener space. In 1882, the Brothers acquired the mansion of Michael Bouvier -- a prominent Philadelphia banker -- located on Broad Street near Girard Avenue.
La Salle’s odyssey continued in the twentieth century. As the city grew up around the school and space needs expanded, a decision was made to move to a new location in what was then unspoiled “country.” In 1929, La Salle opened a new campus in Belfield in the Wister Woods section of Philadelphia.
For its entire life up to 1960, La Salle College and La Salle High School shared the same campus. At the dawn of the 1960’s, the high school separated from the college and moved to its present campus on Cheltenham Avenue in Springfield Township, Montgomery County. The present school was built on the former Belcroft estate of Clarence E. Brown. With the move, La Salle had close proximity to the city and even more space to grow and develop.
In 1982, the geographic separation between the college and the high school became formal, as the two entities legally separated and the high school formed its own Board of Trustees with responsibility for the school’s direction.
In 1992, the school began construction on a new five-story addition to its academic wing. That wing added a new library information center (the McShain Library), a computer center, a media broadcast center, a faculty work center and lounge, instructional classrooms, a lecture hall and an art studio. Hearkening to La Salle’s earliest days, the twenty-first century edifice was christened “St. Michael Hall” in remembrance of the school’s roots at the St. Michael School. St. Michael Hall represented an actualization of the independent La Salle College High School, as it was the fruits of the eight million dollar “Legacy Campaign” -- La Salle’s first-ever capital campaign -- financed through contributions of La Salle alumni, friends, families and philanthropic and business sources.
Following the Legacy Campaign and the visible manifestation of its success in developing Saint Michael Hall, La Salle initiated the “Forever La Salle Campaign” in 1998. The ten million dollar campaign, completed in 2002, focused on increasing the endowment of the school for financial aid, an expanded athletic and music facility called the West Wing, and substantial additional support for the La Salle Annual Fund.
During a twenty year period from 1982 to 2002, La Salle was able to acquire three of the adjoining properties along Cheltenham Avenue and convert them into viable offices. Alumni House, Allinson House, and the Dunleavy Center not only provide additional exposure for the school along Cheltenham Avenue but provide valuable office and meeting space.
In 2006, the school launched Fulfilling The Promise, a $25 million capital campaign, which is the largest fundraising initiative in the school’s history. The project allowed the school to acquire 34 acres of adjoining land along Route 309 and Paper Mill Road, which increased the size of the campus to 84 acres. The acquisition provided for a baseball stadium – Ward Field – along with two additional athletic fields, the McCarthy Walking Trail, a parking lot, storage facility, and the Brother Gratian of Jesus Environmental Study Center.
In 2008, in conjunction with the start of the 150th school year, a new four-level, 40,000 square foot academic wing opened, which featured twelve SMART classrooms, two state-of-the-art science laboratories, a second technology center, a campus ministry area, a study commons, a counseling center, and several meeting rooms. At the center of the addition stand the Marian Chapel and adjoining Whalen Courtyard. The expansion project increased the school’s instructional area to fifty-four SMART classrooms and five science laboratories. McLean Hall (the original academic wing) along with the administrative offices was sequentially renovated prior to the start of the 2009-2010 academic year. The renovations included new windows, air conditioning, and utilities (electrical, plumbing, cable/fiber optics, etc.).