The Tatnall School was founded in 1930 by Frances Dorr Swift Tatnall in her home at 1500 Rodney Street in downtown Wilmington.
The school was incorporated in 1936, and in 1952 moved to its present location on Barley Mill Road in Greenville. The first classes were held in the Sedgely Building. The Donaldson Wing, named after Mrs. Tatnall’s son who died at 16 months, was added in 1954, and the Beekley Building, which houses the Middle and Upper Schools, was constructed in 1959. The Myers Building, named after Mrs. Tatnall’s successor Josephine Myers, was added in 1971. The facilities were expanded with the additions of the Laird Arts Center in 1981 and the Lower School Welles Activity Center in 1996. Tatnall was originally a school for girls, and its colors were yellow and white. In 1964, the school’s colors were changed to black and gold and the Hornet became the official school symbol with the graduation of the first co-educational class.
Tatnall is often referred to as “The Family School” because of its rich tradition of cooperation between home and school and the school’s focus on a close relationship between parents, teachers, and students. The concept of a Tatnall family is attributed directly to Mrs. Tatnall, whose spirit, philosophy, and character are ever present in the daily life of the school.