Waynflete School was founded in 1897 as the Portland School for Girls by Agnes Lowell and Caroline Crisfield with a goal of educating girls for charitable and social service employment. The women changed its name to honor English educator William Waynflete, Bishop of Winchester and Lord Chancellor of England, and moved it in 1912 to its present location, the former Horace Dudley estate. Now occupying several buildings (and playing fields at its Fore River campus at the end of Hobart Street), the school was bought by a group of parents in the 1920s. Waynflete became coeducational in 1971 and sought a more diversified student body. Its 540 students, ranging from age 3 to 18, come from numerous Maine communities. A percentage of the students receive financial aid. Community service is a required part of the school curriculum.
Waynflete counts among its former students and alumni actress Liv Rundgren Tyler (daughter of model and longtime Portland musician, Bebe Buell and Aerosmith lead vocalist, Steven Tyler), acress Linda Lavin and actor Judd Nelson, son of former longtime state democratic representative, Merle Nelson and prominent Portland attorney, Leonard Nelson. The Waynflete Arts Center includes the new Joan Sayward Franklin '46 Theater. Alumnae Joan Sayward Franklin and her husband Robert established Cinema Sound, Ltd., an audio recording studio on Manhattan's Upper West Side in 1962 and produced news and educational features that were syndicated to radio stations nationwide. Joan continued to run the company, producing educational and instructional audio, following her husband's death in 1980. Mrs. Franklin died in 2007.