The Grant City School was opened sometime prior to 1870 and served the small rural community of Grant City (sometimes called Grantsboro) in Slippery Rock Township, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. The small community is located just near the border with Butler County. The one-room schoolhouse was a simple affair with few amenities. In the late 1890’s the school had almost fifty students in grades one through eight.
For many years, as with many other rural schools, it was difficult to secure and maintain a regular teacher. An article in the New Castle News of Wednesday, January 11, 1893, shows how the school could be at the mercy of the teacher’s personal life. It read, “The Grant City School has been closed for three weeks on account of the teacher, Miss Flora Moore, being called home to wait on her mother, who is not expected to live.”
Bernice Dean (1922-2012), the oldest of twelve children born to J. Gale and Lillian (Liese) Dean, grew up in Grant City and later graduated from Slippery Rock Township High School (also known as Princeton High School). Her grandparents Harry and Della (Pounds) Dean operated the H. J. Dean general store, located right beside the schoolhouse. Years later she authored a seven-page essay about her life, and it included information about her early days attending the Grant City School.
She wrote in part, “The teacher was often a single lady who stayed with our grandparents who owned the Country Store next to the school. School always began with the teacher reading a selection from the Bible. We recited the Lord’s prayer and saluted the American flag… Mr Aiken came to the school; I’m not sure how often but we always looked forward to his visits. He taught us songs – mostly patriotic, some funny… Occasionally we would have a spelling bee and the parents and neighbors would attend. I won a few of those, but I remember being “spelled down” by my cousin; we were the only two left standing. I misspelled the word “stomach” and was humiliated… We had to memorize poetry and recite it before the whole school – usually on Friday… Some of the big boys in the school were considered “bullies” as they often attended until they were old enough to quit. As I look back, I believe the teacher was afraid of them. They would be rough on the playground with the little ones… In the winter, the teacher would occasionally give us a sled-riding party. She would make hot chocolate on the warm morning heater in the center of the school room. When we got cold, we would come in and have a hot drink… Once or twice, I remember a “Box Social.” This would include the community. The ladies would decorate a box and fill it with goodies. They would auction off the boxes and whoever bought the box was supposed to eat with the one who fixed it… The students that lived close enough went home at lunch time. That included our family as we lived on the other side of the school from the store. We always had potato soup for lunch. Mother would have it on the stove, cooking, when we got home. It was my job to finish the soup, and wash the dishes before returning to school.”
The aging school served the local community until it was closed in the summer of 1946. All remaining students were transferred to the two-room Rose Point School for the upcoming fall term. The Fox School, which closed in January 1947, and the Grant City School were both sold at an auction on April 15, 1947. Floyd Stevenson of New Castle purchased the Grant City School and converted it into a private residence. It was later sold to another family and is still in use as a residence today.
The one-room Grant City School served the area surrounding the small rural community of Grant City until it was closed in the summer of 1946. (1939) (Courtesy of Mike Dean) Full Size
This aerial map reveals the location of the Grant City School, located at the intersection of Grant City Road and the Perry Highway. (1939)
Class photo from the Grant City School during 1911. Siblings Edna Dean and John Gale Dean flank the teacher in the back row. Charles Stickle is holding the chalkboard and Edith Fisher (bow in hair) is just left of him. Kate Stickle may be short girl in the front row – second from left side. (1911) (Courtesy of Mike Dean) Full Size
Another class photo from the Grant City School. The chalkboard is marked “Feb 5th 1912.” (1912) (Courtesy of Mike Dean) Full Size
Siblings Charles and Elsie Dean on the front porch of the Grant City School, likely about the time the school was closed down. (c1946) (Courtesy of Mike Dean)