In 1799, the Benevolent Society of the City and County of Baltimore, founded by a group of parishioners from St. Paul's Church, established an orphanage for the care and educating of indigent or orphaned girls, a visionary move in a world that believed that young women, especially poor young women, had no use for skills like reading and writing.
Eleanor Buchanan Rogers, wife of Colonel Nicholas Rogers IV, a dashing Revolutionary War hero, persuaded her husband to initiate the plan for the orphanage. She was very interested in educating young girls, not just in teaching them domestic skills. The Rogers owned a country home in what is now Druid Hill Park and are buried in a small graveyard on property now belonging to the Baltimore Zoo.
Over the next 150 years, the orphanage moved several times within the Baltimore community and, at some time, the name was changed from "the orphanage of the Benevolent Society" to "St. Paul's Girls' School." In 1929, a new version of the school emerged. Girls lived at Evergreen, an estate owned and run by the Benevolent Society, but they were educated in Baltimore's public schools.
By the 1950s, the focus of the Benevolent Society had shifted. Evergreen was sold and St. Paul's Girls' School was closed. The Benevolent Society turned its attention to helping St. Paul's School establish its Brooklandville campus while supporting the establishment of the St. Paul’s Lower School, which enrolled girls through the fourth grade.
Then in 1958, the men and women of the Benevolent Society moved once again to the business of educating young women. The group elected to establish a new college preparatory school for girls that would emphasize academics, individual growth, and Christian values, a place where each girl would be encouraged to do her very best.
In the fall of 1959, St. Paul's School for Girls opened in Brooklandville, Maryland on a rural hillside campus in the Green Spring Valley of Baltimore County. The school's name was changed slightly to distinguish it from its predecessors. Rosalind Levering was hired to be the first headmistress. She was followed over the next decades by Mary Frances Wagley, Mary Ellen Thomsen, Lila Lohr, Dr. Evelyn A. Flory, Nancy Eisenberg, Michael Eanes (who served as interim head), Dr. Monica M. Gillespie, Lila Lohr (who returned as an interim head), and current head of school Penny B. Evins.
Separate from St. Paul's School, but inhabiting neighboring campuses and a variety of coordinating classes, SPSG has its own Head of School and Board of Trustees. SPSG is accredited by the Association of Independent Maryland Schools (AIMS) and is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) and the National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES).
During its history, SPSG has grown and changed dramatically, while keeping its original traditions and values in tact. In the early 1990s, the school joined with St. Paul's School to build and run the Ward Center for the Arts to showcase the artistic talents of students from both schools. In the mid-1990s, attention was turned to science, technology, and athletics, as SPSG created state-of-the-art science rooms, built a new gym, remodeled an old gym, added a fitness center, and moved confidently into the dot.com world by enhancing technology programs and labs.
Driven by a vital need to upgrade campus facilities, the school's trustees made a landmark decision to expand the school at the turn of the 21st century. Carefully considering the input of the school community, the project architects created spaces designed to support and enhance the school's exceptional academic and extracurricular programs. Construction began in early 2000 and was completed in 2002.
A sweeping addition to the original building contains a technology-enhanced, two-story classroom wing; a newly outfitted library; the lovely Benevolent Chapel; and the Commons, a large, informal gathering space for students to relax and meet friends. The totally renovated old building now houses brand-new offices for student services, administrative offices, a handsome alumnae center, a sunny dance studio, and several science labs. New playing fields improve the school's athletic facilities. On April 26, 2002, members of the school community came together to dedicate the building and to celebrate the wonderful new home of St. Paul's School for Girls.
Since 2002, the school has continually moved ahead to meet the demands of the 21st century in both plans and programs. A state-of-the-art turf field has added to the athletic facilities to enhance play for the school's field hockey, soccer, and lacrosse teams. To provide an alternative to the Ward Center cafeteria, an in-house café, the Gator Café, was installed in the Commons.
Today, SPSG offers girls an exceptional education in an extraordinary environment. Our students are bright, articulate, and eager to learn. One hundred percent attend college after graduation. Excelling in the classroom, on the athletic fields, in the arts, and in the community, SPSG students are the living legacy of the 18th century Benevolent Society.