The Terrace Avenue School, which cost a total of almost $41,000, was built on West Terrace Avenue in the Sheep Hill section of New Castle, Pennsylvania, beginning in April 1899. Construction was briefly halted due to a lack of materials, but I believe the school finally opened for classes in early 1900. The sixth graders transferred over from the Lincoln and Garfield Schools were the first inhabitants of the new school.
The first principal was an ambitious young teacher from Mercer County named Mr. Samuel H. Hadley. In the summer of 1902 he was elected as the Superintendent of Mercer County schools and was succeeded as principal by Mr. W. Lee Gilmore. Gilmore served until 1907 at which time Miss Anna Perry took over. Perry, a graduate of Geneva College and the University of Pittsburgh, would serve as the principal for the next thirty-three years. She eventually served as principal of several different schools at the same time and finally retired in 1940 as one of New Castle’s most well known educators.
The school initially housed students up to the eighth grade but later served primarily as an elementary school. The school closed in mid-1940 and during World War II its basement (and several metal portable buildings erected outside) served as an industrial trade school for men operated by the Veterans Administration (VA).
In June 1946 the school was sold for $10,000 to the S.S. Philip & James Catholic Church, then under the leadership of the pious Reverend Vincent V. Stancelowski. The church soon moved its parochial school, founded back in 1926, from its current location at the corner of Charles and Miller Streets to the former Terrace Avenue School. The successful nighttime trade school, known as the Terrace Avenue School for Craftsman, also continued in operation in the school’s basement until the late-1950’s.
The S.S. Philip & James Catholic School was in operation for over thirty years until declining enrollment saw it close in June 1972. Afterwards it served as a center for the Lawrence County Head Start preschool program until the late 1990’s, at which time it relocated to the newly vacated Lincoln-Garfield Elementary School.
The Terrace Avenue School sat vacant and was later sold to a private owner. It simply sat abandoned and without any care it soon fell victim to the elements. On Monday, June 7, 2010, part of the sagging roof collapsed and the city took immediate action to secure the site. Two days later a demolition crew went to work tearing down the 111-year-old building. The discovery of asbestos infestation and increased disposal costs slowed the process of clearing away the debris. Eventually the site was cleared and is now home to a vacant lot.
To read about the 1899 election of Samuel Hadley as the school’s first principal click on: PRINCIPAL ELECTED ARTICLE. To read about a gang of rowdy boys disrupting class at the Terrace Avenue School in 1900 click on: BAD BOYS ARTICLE. To learn more about the 1902 election of Lee Gilmore as the school’s second principal click on: NEW PRINCIPAL ARTICLE. In late 1911 an outbreak of diphtheria closed the school for several weeks. To learn more about the outbreak click on: OUTBREAK ARTICLE. To read more about the curriculum of the school in 1922 click on: UNIQUE ENROLLMENT ARTICLE.
The facade of the old school shows the date of its construction in 1899. (Apr 2010)
The old Terrace Avenue School in the Sheep Hill area of New Castle, which was built back in 1899. This postcard is postmarked in October 1904. This primary school was opened to sixth graders in 1900 and closed in about 1941. (c1909)
The Terrace Avenue School initially housed pupils up to the eighth grade, but later served primarily as an elementary school. (c1910)Full Size
A view of the front of the old school, located at the corner of Terrace Avenue and South Jefferson Street (on left). (c2008)
The abandoned and crumbling school (seen here from the rear) was finally demolished and cleared away in June 2010, 111 years after it was built. All that remains today is a vacant lot. (c2008)