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Terrace Avenue School - New Castle, PA

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


The building was purchased in late June 1946 for use as a parochial school by the S.S. Philip & James Catholic Church. The Veteran’s Administration also operated a trade school in the basement for a few years. The Catholic School closed in 1972, and the building was used a pre-kindergarten center until closing for good in the late 1980’s. (2009)


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)

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Comment

  1. Thank you for all your good work on the history of New Castle .My Mother grew up there , as a poor immigrant’s daughter in South Newcastle. She then married an American diplomat and lived in DC and Europe. I am trying to find out more about her childhood ,which she rarely mentioned. I think from your description she went to the terrace street school. Can you point me to other info about this school? I tried clicking on the links in the article and they did not work. Should I look elsewhere?
    I am also interested in the Southern European immigrant community.My grandfather immigrated from Romania to N.C. in 1910
    Again thanks for your research.
    Diana Hulick

    Diana Hulick · 10/27/2011 09:46 PM · #

  2. EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana, here is what I pieced together from the info you provided in another email. David Barbos immigrated from Romania to Law Co in 1910, had a daughter named Susan (Susie) in c1913, and soon suffered the loss of his wife. In 1920 he is widowed, employed at a “nut & rivet shop,” renting a home on Moravia St in Taylor Township, and neighbors with a Steve & Floria Barbos (relatives?). Your mom Susie attended the West Pittsburg School beginning in 1918 and graduated from the 8th grade at that school in May 1927. Among her classmates growing up were my aunts Josephine and Madeline (Mary) DeMarc of West Pittsburg. Her last teacher was Blanche Allen of Wampum, who was also the principal of the school from about 1924-1933. Susie left for NYC in c1927-28 as a young teenager – presumably in search of work. You may know more but that’s probably where she met State Dept diplomat Charles E. Hulick, who was assigned to London for some years. I’ll see what else I can find out. Hope this helps you out for now.

    Jeff Bales (editor) · 11/13/2011 10:36 AM · #

  3. I went to CCD classes in the 1970’s at this school, as we attended SS Philip & James. I am researching my ancestors, paternal great grandmother Mary Swiatkiewicz Siergiej Bilcz and her brothers, Adam and Stephen, and daughters Hedwig (Siergiej) Grabiec and Aleksandra (Siergiej) Gajda.

    Also, my paternal grandfather, Jakob Gajda, husband of Aleksandra. Should any of these names be those you have information on, I would love to know what you have!

    Thank you so much for this fine, informative website, I really have enjoyed spending a lot of time on here!

    Michelle Gajda Butler

    Michelle (Gajda) Butler · 08/09/2013 05:59 PM · #

  4. My great aunt, Gladys Rich was the Supervisor of Vocal Music at the Terrace Ave. School. I have copies of “Lullabies from Many Lands”, Original Song Project by the pupils. It includes: Japanese Sleep Song A Dutch Lullaby A Scotch Cradle Song An Irish Lullaby Tyrolean Slumber Song Egyptian Sleepy Time Song Hawaian Lullaby Norwegian Slumber Song An Argentine Lullaby
    I am assuming the students wrote the songs and Gladys wrote the accompaniment. This was done in 1929. Her most famous song was “American Lullaby.” Let me know if anyone is interested in copies.

    Susie Bauter Adams · 08/05/2016 11:24 AM · #

  5. I attended 1st grade there in 1955. We lived up the street about 2 blocks away at 1514 Morris Street with my grandfather Stephen Klamar. If any of these names sound familiar I would welcome any comments.

    Linda Grotefend Dilbeck · 01/05/2017 04:18 PM · #

  6. The school was thriving in the late 50’s, early 60’s when I attended. We were taught by the Sister of the Holy Ghost and learned the basics of Christian living. Many memories of Religion class, rushing home for lunch to play baseball at the nearby field and in the fenced playground on the school property. Many enjoyed the merry go round in the basement. Every year the Children’s Choir would sing for Monsignor Stansilewsk and Father Francis Majda. We all went down to the Pittsburgh Civic arena to celebrate a Jubilee, dancing folk dances and singing for the Bishop. In 1964(?) many remember the day we found out that Kennedy was shot and the memory is still vivid in my mind. Well, Sister Bonaventure would have not allowed that back brick wall to collapse in the 3rd / 4th grade classroom had she still been around to stop it… Yes, it’s now a vacant lot in a decaying neighborhood. Many contributing citizens graduated the 8th grade and learned how to live in the world.

    Robert Ostrowski · 11/24/2017 05:34 PM · #