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Benjamin Franklin Statue & Boston Latin School — the country’s oldest public school

Boston Latin School, founded on April 13, 1635, was the first public school in Boston, and the oldest public school in the country. Until the completion of the schoolhouse, classes were held in the home of the first headmaster, Philemen Pormont. On School Street a mosaic and a statue of noted alumnus Benjamin Franklin marks the location of the original Boston Latin schoolhouse, which was completed in 1645. Four signers of the Declaration of Independence attended Boston Latin: Franklin, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Robert Treat Paine. But of the four, only three graduated. Ben Franklin, though one of America’s greatest minds, is also one of its most notable high school dropouts. Marking the association, the statue of Franklin, sculpted by Richard Saltonstall Greenough in 1856, is installed in front of the building.

The original wooden Boston Latin school building was torn down in 1745 to make way for an expanded King’s Chapel, but the school has continued in different locations. It is currently located in the Fenway (a neighborhood of Boston) and unlike in the days of the Revolution. While the original Boston Latin School is on the Freedom Trail, today it is located in another neighborhood of Boston and admits both boys and girls.

FRANKLIN’S ROOTS While Ben Franklin lived most of his adult life in Philadelphia, he had strong ties to Boston as well. Franklin was born in 1706 in Boston at 17 Milk Street in a two-story cottage which burnt down over a century later. Shortly after his birth he was christened in the original wooden Old South Meeting House across the street.

BEN THE INVENTOR Franklin is well known for his invention of the lightening rod, publishing the proposal for his famous kite and key experiment in 1750. But this was only one of many different Franklin inventions. Ben is also responsible for the Franklin stove, the glass harmonica, the post office, and bifocal lenses. He also named, and was the first to chart, the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic Ocean.

Freedom Trail Foundation tours that feature this site:
Walk Into History Tour
African-American Patriots Tour
Historic Holiday Stroll

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