In the early 1950’s the New Castle Board of Education started looking into replacing some of its older schools, including the aging Oak Street School on the East Side of New Castle. Several locations on the East Side were looked at before a site just east of Scott Street – near where it intersects E. Main St – was “selected” in August 1953.
The majority of the six-acre site was owned by William H. Butler, but four other men owned smaller lots at the location. In early August 1953 the school board offered Butler $8,000 for his part of the property, but he held out asking for $10,000. Oh well! On August 19, 1953, the city went forth by condemning the Butler property (I assume Mr. Butler got his $8,000) and making offers to purchase the four smaller lots. Architect Robert A. Eckles was also hired to design the new school.
The proposed school was soon named for the late Harry W. Lockley, a local businessman and engineer well-known thorough out the East Side. Lockley was born in Lawrence County on January 10, 1882, was a lifelong Methodist, worked for the Johnson Bronze Company for a time, and founded the Lockley Machine Company on County Line Road in 1921. He retired in 1937 and turned his company over to his four sons. Lockley was a big supporter of education in the area and came out of retirement during World War II to teach in the machine shop at the New Castle Vocational School (next to Ben Franklin Middle School). He passed away in New Wilmington at the age of sixty-six on October 27, 1948.
Construction was started on the modern, one-story elementary school in April 1954. The new school, which was constructed at a cost of $600,000, was opened for classes on Wednesday, September 7, 1955. The school was officially dedicated during an evening ceremony on Thursday, December 1, 1955. My father (the Bales family lived just nearby on Scott Street) was probably at Lockley when it opened in September 1955 – having previously attended Croton Elementary School – and I believe he completed grades 4-6 there.
These days the school serves kindergarten-aged children and is known officially as the Harry W. Lockley Kindergarten Center. In June 2010 a consolidation plan called for a major addition to the old Lockley School. The building will be expanded to over twice its original size and be renamed as the Harry W. Lockley Early Learning Center. It will serve pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, and possibly kids up to the first grade level. To facilitate the expansion the city is purchasing an adjacent property owned by Solid Rock Ministries. Construction is slated to begin in the fall of 2011 and the estimated cost is between $16-19 million. The new and improved school bearing the name of Harry W. Lockley will apparently be around for many more years.
To read the obituary for the school’s namesake click on: LOCKLEY’S OBITUARY.
Harry W. Lockley Elementary School first opened for classes in September 1955. (Photo courtesy of Dee Dee Laird) (2008) Full Size
The front of Lockley Elementary off of N. Scott St. Jul 2010.
The letters marking the name of the school. Apr 2009.
The long driveway (Osage St) leading up to the school from the north. My dad would have made this walk many a times as a youngster. Jul 2010.
The classrooms located towards the back of the small school. Jul 2010.
The $22.9 million (total cost) “Additions & Alterations” project of the Lockley facility was finally granted final approval in November 2012, after several years of study, debate, and dispute. Gutting of the old building, which will form the core of a much larger facility, commenced soon after. Evacuation and construction of the new additions began in early January 2013. (Aug 2013) Full Size
(Aug 2013) Full Size
The front of the new Lockley Early Learning Center as it nears completion. (May 2014) Full Size
(May 2014) Full Size