Boston Latin School, founded on April 23, 1635, is the oldest public school in America. It offered free education to boys - rich or poor - while girls attended private schools at home. Until the completion of the schoolhouse in 1645, classes were held in the home of the first headmaster, Philemon Pormort. A mosaic and a statue of former student Benjamin Franklin currently marks the School Street location of the original schoolhouse. Five signers of the Declaration of Independence attended Boston Latin: Franklin, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine, and William Hooper. Of the five, only four graduated. Ben Franklin, though one of America’s greatest minds, is also one of its most notable dropouts.
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 neighborhood of Boston and as of 1972, 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 at 17 Milk Street in what is today downtown Boston. Shortly after his birth he was christened in the original wooden Old South Meeting House across the street.