The Mahoningtown Public School, also known as the Mahoning School, was built in 1893 in the Mahoningtown section of southern New Castle, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. It stood on North Cedar Street where it intersects with East Madison Avenue. It replaced a school built back in 1838 in the northern part of Mahoningtown. The new Cedar Street schoolhouse served the children of the local residents, mostly Italian immigrants who spoke very little English. At the time Mahoningtown was a separate municipality and did not officially become the Seventh Ward of New Castle until 1898.
In 1906 a new heating system was installed and a four-room annex, designed by architect W.G. Eckles, was built alongside the school to accommodate the increase of the student population. By the start of the Great War (World War I) in 1914 the school was home to about 600 children of all grades. At that time another annex, known as the Woods Building, was purchased for additional classroom use. By late 1914 school officials were planning further upgrades and improvements to the school.
However, before that could happen, the worst case scenario took place. On the night of Saturday, January 29, 1915, a raging fire swept through the main portion of the school and gutted the entire structure. Inadequate fire protection services in Mahoningtown led to a delay that might have saved the main school building from becoming a total loss. The adjoining four-room annex building suffered minor damage as well.
For several weeks the students went to school for half-day sessions at various locations in Mahoningtown including at the Woods Building and in four different churches. On February 22, 1915, when the annex building was cleaned up, students started back at full-day sessions at all six locations. Meanwhile, the remains of the demolished school were cleared away.
In June 1915, the school board awarded contracts for $83,391 to build a modern schoolhouse on the site of the former school. The new red-brick school with gray stone trim, which would incorporate the existing four-room annex built in 1905, would consist of two floors of eighteen classrooms and a basement with playrooms and a gymnasium. It was built by the W.H. Chambers Company and designed to hold about 1,100 pupils. A public contest offering $5 was held to name the new school. Apparently a suitable moniker was not submitted because school officials simply choose to keep it as the “Mahoning School.”
The new Mahoning School opened in September 1916 to much fanfare. It accommodated students from grades first through ninth until 1958, when the junior high level pupils (grades 7-9) were transferred to Ben Franklin and George Washington Junior High Schools. The school, afterwards known as the Mahoning Elementary School, remained in operation until it closed at the end of the 1988 school year. It was torn down a few years later and today is nothing more than a grassy lot.
Several of my relatives, including my uncle John Hake, attended classes at this school.
To read a 1906 article about the planned installation of a heating system click on: HEATING PLANT ARTICLE. After the devastating fire of January 1915 the school annex was closed for a few weeks. To read about the students returning to classes in the annex click on: ANNEX REOPENED ARTICLE. To read more about the plans for the new Mahoning School click on: SCHOOL PLANS ARTICLE. To read about the remodeling effort in the annex in February 1916 click on: ANNEX WORK ARTICLE. The new Mahoning School was and dedicated in September 1916. To learn more about the dedication ceremony click on: DEDICATION ARTICLE.
The Mahoning School was built in 1893 and a four-room annex, seen on left, was added in 1906 to deal with the growing population of the area. By September 1914 the school was home to about 600 students of all grades. (c1910) Full Size
A postcard showing the Mahoning School shortly after the devastating fire of January 1915. The main portion of the school you see was razed and rebuilt, while the annex on the far left was restored.