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Home Street/Pollock Avenue School - New Castle PA

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The Home Street School, which cost $50,000 and was located on the East Side of New Castle, first opened for classes with 346 pupils in mid-October 1905. Its opening was delayed by construction issues and when finally completed was a whopping $20,000 (or 66%) over budget. In about 1921 the school was renamed as the Pollock Avenue School in honor of pioneering resident Dr. Joseph Pollock (1798-1856), a noted surgeon, politician, civic leader, and businessman. The school, later known as the Pollock Avenue Elementary School, was at the center of controversy in the mid-1960’s. Many local residents wanted the school closed due to its deteriorating state, low enrollment, and to save operating costs, while city officials sought to ensure they did not lose state funding due to overcrowding of other schools. The school was finally shutdown for good in June 1968. It was torn down in late 1970 and the property was sold for $3,500 in September 1973. (c1910) Full Size


This aerial view from 1939 shows the location of the old Home Street/Pollock Avenue School – which fronts Home Street – on the South Side of New Castle. (1939) Full Size


Students gather in front of the Home Street School. (c1911) Full Size

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Comment

  1. this school bldg was located on the corner of pollock avenue and home st, on the south side of new castle(5th ward), my aunt lives across the street and has for over 50 years, my father, my uncle, and my cousins and their friends used to play in the building after it had been closed down, i have books that were “borrowed” from there after the schoolboard abandoned it. my cousins went to st vitus for school otherwise they would’ve went to this school, which I’ve always known as Pollock Avenue school, even though it seems the front door was on Home street. the remnants of a solid concrete foundation are still there as well as a few bricks scatttered about the lot.

    Gino Ventura · 03/06/2013 11:22 PM · #

  2. Went to school there through third grade. They had quit using the upper floor due to its poor condition. Probably had asbestos as well. Mr. Walker was the principal. They went up to fifth grade at that time. That was when the tragic fire cost the lives of five children just a few blocks away, two were in school and three were too young.

    Pigeons used to get stuck in the chimney and the janitor would have to come in to the room and remove the cover over the old fireplace to get them out.

    We had a daily milk break. They would bring in wire crates with bottles of milk. You could hear them being placed outside the door and would anticipate the break. You could get chocolate if you wanted to.

    Steve · 06/03/2013 11:53 AM · #

  3. Went there about the same time you did Steve. The family passing in that terrible fire was devastating to the whole south side community. I remember Mrs. Millison in 1st grade, and I believe it was Miss Bonnfield in second. I too can still hear the glass clinking as they put the crates outside the door. Hey Steve did you take my milk money? :)

    Ah yes, won’t mention her name; but one cold, wet, rainy morning I entered the school from the east( the playground side) and started up the steep stairs to my homeroom on the right at the top, as I was then beckoned by as a young lass who needed to, “tell me a secret”. She proceeded to kiss me on the cheek. Ah yes, she was the last simple female I ever knew. :) Pollock Ave. Elementary School still remains in the memory after 50 years.

    Mark · 02/25/2014 11:57 PM · #

  4. (EDITOR’S NOTE) The fire mentioned above took place at #211 1/2 Lutton Street on the morning of Friday, January 14, 1966. The home was the residence of Mr and Mrs Norman Mayer and their five young children – several of which attended the Pollock Avenue School. Mr Mayer was away, while Mrs Mayer was upstairs preparing a morning bath. Her daughter Jodie (4Y) discovered that a living room chair (sitting against a radiator) was on fire and alerted her mom. Mrs Mayer briefly fought the fire before running to a neighbors house for help. Apparently she locked herself out and could not get back into the house. The residence was a raging fire when the fire dept arrived on scene a few minutes later. Four children died upstairs of smoke inhalation (ages 8Y, 6Y, 5Y, 18M), while young Jodie was found burned by the front door. All five children were laid to rest at Castle View Memorial Gardens. The New Castle News labeled the tragedy as the “worst fire in the history of the city.” Such a sad story. Jeff

    Jeff Bales Jr (EDITOR) · 02/26/2014 11:08 AM · #

  5. (EDITOR’S NOTE) A few days after the January 1966 tragedy Fire Chief John L. Oberleitner said burned matches were found near the chair in the living room of the Mayer family. Apparently the fire was accidently started by one or some of the children playing with matches. Mrs Mayer (the former Elsie Hoover) gave birth to a daughter in September 1966, and I believe the Mayer’s had at least three other children in the coming years. Jeff

    Jeff Bales Jr (EDITOR) · 02/26/2014 11:43 AM · #

  6. I attended this school for grades 1 through 4 while I was in the Margaret Henry Home. My first grade teacher was Mrs. Cotton who whacked me one day for playing with & spilling the bottle of ink. Left me with a bloody nose :-). I remember playing on the hillside across the street during recess. This was 1946 – 50

    Arnold Edward Fraser · 03/05/2014 02:16 PM · #

  7. I attended 3rd ((Miss Martin) & 4th (Mrs. Sampson) in 1954-56. Miss Martin whacked the back of my hand if I was late, but I loved her class because we sang everyday while she played the piano. In 4th grade I had my favorite teacher of all, dear Mrs. Sampson. She cared for kids & made me feel special. I wish I could have thanked her so many times when I became a teacher myself. She was a great role model.

    Dorothy Brewer Powell · 07/11/2014 04:19 PM · #

  8. While I lived in Neshannock and did not know this lovely old timely school, I did know the history of that fire. They were not a wealthy family. The mom, Elsie, was a lovely and pretty lady worn thin by so many kids and parenting responsibilities. It was a long time before any mother in the 1960s could get over the news of this tragic story. A collection was taken up all over town for the children’s burials and the people of New Castle responded so very generously. People then came long and far to the east side to see the burned out house. I’ve never forgotten hearing that terrible news. Yes, it was “kids playing with matches” and then the children were found throughout the house, hiding from the fire.

    Linda Rippin · 02/03/2015 05:37 AM · #

  9. I attended Pollock school, I also remember when Norman Mayer was killed in the fire. He sat behind me in class,I remember some of the kids would pick on him,I thought he was nice,I was very upset when he died.R.W.A. Norman

    Brenda L · 07/24/2016 03:05 AM · #

  10. In response to Mark from 2014. It was Mrs. Mills in first. I believe either Mrs. Patton in second but could have been Paterson and Miss Jane Bonfield in third. I left after third grade but I believe the fifth grade teacher was a man and I don’t recall the fourth. I’ll need to ask my sister as she made it through fifth before we moved.

    Now for Brenda L from the 2016 post. If Norman sat behind you then we were in the same class. I remember some names and I do remember a Brenda. I believe that you, Norman, me and a tall kid with a slight cleft pallet or scar on his upper lip hung out with us too. Many of the others had been to kindergarten and knew each other but the four of us I don’t think had so we gravitated to each other. I do have a class picture from first grade I believe. Find Pete Squillo on Facebook. He’d most likely love to hear from you.

    Steve · 03/20/2017 01:22 AM · #