GTMS Life > News October 27, 2022

Did you know? 

At its founding in 1966, Greene Towne’s yet unnamed physical plant was a storage room full of dusty old furniture, and a basketball court on the third floor of St. Clement’s Church at 2013 Appletree St., only a few blocks from 2121 Arch St.  Founder Portia Sperr and her husband Otto lived in Center City, and […]

At its founding in 1966, Greene Towne’s yet unnamed physical plant was a storage room full of dusty old furniture, and a basketball court on the third floor of St. Clement’s Church at 2013 Appletree St., only a few blocks from 2121 Arch St. 

Founder Portia Sperr and her husband Otto lived in Center City, and were strong advocates of Montessori principles and techniques. In their search for a preschool for their daughter Oona, they toured Ravenwood Academy (now part of Jefferson University), the only Montessori school near Center City at the time. While impressed all around, they lamented that the commute to East Falls would not be feasible as they didn’t have a car, and one of them didn’t even drive. 

Portia remarked casually, “Well, I guess the only thing we can do is found our own school.” She did not realize that in a matter of months (and many hours of elbow grease by volunteers who carted out old church “treasures” and repainted the walls with entirely donated cans of white paint), indeed she would be founding her own school, with an opening enrollment of 30 primary students.

Much thought was given to what to name this fledgling Montessori school before it opened. It wasn’t until Portia and Otto were attending a lecture in which they heard Philadelphia referred to as “Penn’s Green Countrie Towne” that they settled on a name. Portia was immediately taken with the description; hence Greene Towne was born!

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