Our Strategic Vision

A Brief Timeline of 150 Years of Friends

One-hundred-and-fifty years ago, on September 9, 1867, the Friends School at Brooklyn opened its doors to eight boys and and nine girls. Its doors have remained open for a century and a half, educating generations of children in the Quaker tradition in Downtown Brooklyn, now with over 900 students. Since day one, the key tenets of the Friends education have been: a focus on academic excellence, embracing educational innovation, an insistence on small class sizes and attention to the individual, educating the whole child, and exceptional student/teacher connections – each firmly grounded in Quaker principles and practice.

For an educational institution in Brooklyn, a city and borough which has had its share of historic highs and lows, reaching a 150th anniversary is noteworthy and a cause for reflection and celebration. During the 2017-2018 school year, we are proud to celebrate this milestone anniversary with all members of our community.

Dec 27

The Civil War Ends and a Friends School Begins

The minutes of the Brooklyn Women’s Preparative Meeting note that “the subject of having a Preparative Meeting School was opened” and a group of women was appointed to take this under consideration. By February 2, 1867, the proposal was brought to the New York Monthly Meeting. From the minutes: “Upon deliberation it was united with and encouraged by the Meeting and the use of the basement of the House was granted for that purpose.”


Jun 17

The Press Goes Wild

6_17_1867-announcing-friends-school-at-brooklynThe first announcement to the general public regarding the Friends School at Brooklyn appears in the Seventh Annual Circular and Catalogue of Friends Seminary.


Sep 09

A Grand Opening

Friends School at Brooklyn opens its doors to 8 boys and 9 girls.

Jun 01

Growth Spurts: The First Rose Bowl, the First Movie Theater, and Our First Kindergarten

A two-story building is constructed next to the Meeting House and a Kindergarten program is added. Schoolwide enrollment is 137.

Jun 01

The First Montessori School Opens in Rome and We Open Our First Upper School


The Upper School college preparatory division opens with 21 students.

Jun 01

The Roaring ’20s

The growth spurt continues when a new three-story building, named for Quaker philanthropist Phoebe Anna Thorne, opens. The building has a basement and rooftop play area and is equipped with chemistry and physics laboratories. Enrollment rises to 348.

Jun 01

Louis Armstrong’s First Record and a New Athletic Field












To meet the needs of the School’s growing athletic program, Friends School purchases a six acre athletic field at Avenue M and McDonald Avenue. It is known as Friends School Field.

Jun 01

Football Heroes













The varsity football team completes an undefeated, unscored-on season going 6-0 and ending with a 61-0 victory against Adelphi.

Jun 01

The World’s First Can of Spam and Our First Field House
















The School’s commitment to athletics continues to when a field house is constructed at Friends School Field, designed by BFS parent Lorimer Rich, the architect of the Tomb of the Unknowns in Washington, DC.


Jun 01

Our First Social Action





The school buildings and Meeting House are threatened with demolition to make way for a new city jail. Fortunately, a coalition of civic and religious organizations persuades the mayor and borough president to build the jail one block away on Atlantic Avenue.


Jun 01

Bobby Fischer Disappears As We Appear on Pearl Street
















Friends School Field is sold to the New York City Parks Department and the School conducts its first capital campaign to finance the move to 375 Pearl Street, a seven-story building constructed in 1928 for Brooklyn Law School.


Jun 01

Calvin & Hobbes and a New Preschool Debut













The Preschool program begins with two teachers and 12 three and four year olds.

Jun 01

That Championship Season











The boys varsity basketball team wins the New York state championship.


Jun 01

Pinter Wins Nobel for Literature; More Friends Footprints

As schoolwide enrollment tops 600 for the third year in a row, the Upper School moves to a new home at 55 Willoughby Street.

Jun 01

Going Global

BFS begins to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program for juniors and seniors.


Jun 01

Planning the Next Century

At the 140th anniversary of the School’s founding and the centennial of the Upper School, we launched an ambitious strategic plan which laid out a plan for an increase in enrollment of 50% in the next 10 years. The plan’s underlying vision was for the School to be a leader in values-based education, with an exemplary PS – 12 curriculum capped by an International Baccalaureate Diploma option, with the financial resources and voluntary giving to secure our place as a top-tier educational institution.

Sep 08

A New Upper School


Thanks to the generosity of the BFS community, a new 45,000 square foot home for the Upper School at 116 Lawrence Street opened with a joyful ribbon cutting ceremony. The students and faculty of the Upper School moved around the corner from 55 Willoughby Street to the expansive facility in MetroTech.