The Grant City School was opened sometime prior to 1870 and served the small rural community of Grant City (sometimes called Grantsboro) in Slippery Rock Township, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. The small community is located just near the border with Butler County. The one-room schoolhouse was a simple affair with few amenities. In the late 1890’s the school had almost fifty students in grades one through eight.
For many years, as with many other rural schools, it was difficult to secure and maintain a regular teacher. An article in the New Castle News of Wednesday, January 11, 1893, shows how the school could be at the mercy of the teacher’s personal life. It read, “The Grant City School has been closed for three weeks on account of the teacher, Miss Flora Moore, being called home to wait on her mother, who is not expected to live.”
Bernice Dean (1922-2012), the oldest of twelve children born to J. Gale and Lillian (Liese) Dean, grew up in Grant City and later graduated from Slippery Rock Township High School (also known as Princeton High School). Her grandparents Harry and Della (Pounds) Dean operated the H. J. Dean general store, located right beside the schoolhouse. Years later she authored a seven-page essay about her life, and it included information about her early days attending the Grant City School.
She wrote in part, “The teacher was often a single lady who stayed with our grandparents who owned the Country Store next to the school. School always began with the teacher reading a selection from the Bible. We recited the Lord’s prayer and saluted the American flag… Mr Aiken came to the school; I’m not sure how often but we always looked forward to his visits. He taught us songs – mostly patriotic, some funny… Occasionally we would have a spelling bee and the parents and neighbors would attend. I won a few of those, but I remember being “spelled down” by my cousin; we were the only two left standing. I misspelled the word “stomach” and was humiliated… We had to memorize poetry and recite it before the whole school – usually on Friday… Some of the big boys in the school were considered “bullies” as they often attended until they were old enough to quit. As I look back, I believe the teacher was afraid of them. They would be rough on the playground with the little ones… In the winter, the teacher would occasionally give us a sled-riding party. She would make hot chocolate on the warm morning heater in the center of the school room. When we got cold, we would come in and have a hot drink… Once or twice, I remember a “Box Social.” This would include the community. The ladies would decorate a box and fill it with goodies. They would auction off the boxes and whoever bought the box was supposed to eat with the one who fixed it… The students that lived close enough went home at lunch time. That included our family as we lived on the other side of the school from the store. We always had potato soup for lunch. Mother would have it on the stove, cooking, when we got home. It was my job to finish the soup, and wash the dishes before returning to school.”
The aging school served the local community until it was closed in the summer of 1946. All remaining students were transferred to the two-room Rose Point School for the upcoming fall term. The Fox School, which closed in January 1947, and the Grant City School were both sold at an auction on April 15, 1947. Floyd Stevenson of New Castle purchased the Grant City School and converted it into a private residence. It was later sold to another family and is still in use as a residence today.
The one-room Grant City School served the area surrounding the small rural community of Grant City until it was closed in the summer of 1946. (1939) (Courtesy of Mike Dean) Full Size
This aerial map reveals the location of the Grant City School, located at the intersection of Grant City Road and the Perry Highway. (1939)
Class photo from the Grant City School during 1911. Siblings Edna Dean and John Gale Dean flank the teacher in the back row. Charles Stickle is holding the chalkboard and Edith Fisher (bow in hair) is just left of him. Kate Stickle may be short girl in the front row – second from left side. (1911) (Courtesy of Mike Dean) Full Size
Another class photo from the Grant City School. The chalkboard is marked “Feb 5th 1912.” (1912) (Courtesy of Mike Dean) Full Size
Siblings Charles and Elsie Dean on the front porch of the Grant City School, likely about the time the school was closed down. (c1946) (Courtesy of Mike Dean)
Marcia Curry #
I lived in the old Grant City School House. My father, Floyd Stevenson purchased it and the land for $1,000. He then had it completely renovated and he and my mother lived in it and then the 3 children came along later. I do have pictures of it I think. There was a bell that was taken from the roof and on display in the front yard but it was stolen before I was born in 1951.
Helen M. Hunt #
I have a New Castle News article of May 1934. My husband Jesse Hunt attended Grant City School and performed a vocal solo in May 1934 as part of the Summer Closing Program. He was 12 years old at the time.
He and Bernice were in the same class. Bernice performed a monologue. “Nellie keeps a secret.
I didn’t attend Grant City School, but I did attend Princeton High School and Bernice and Jesse were in my class.
Jesse and Floyd were golf buddies.
Elsie Dean was my daughter’s babysitter.
My son was the Grant City paperboy and delivered papers to the Deans and Stevensons.
Yesterday I celebrated my 96th birthday.
George R Dean #
I attended Grant City School thru 7th grade, then Rose Point & Princeton High.
I quit school, entered the Navy & stayed fro 24+ years. spent 7 year on Guam (2 tours) flying into typhoons. Also recruited in Mercer Co, in the late 60’s.
Attended Texas A&I, Univ of Guam, Penn State & finally got a degree i Edu from Augusta, College.
Taught NJROTC at Lawrence Co. VoTech in the 70’s. 11 of the 12 Dean children attended Grant City school. After Pearl Harbor, the teacher, Chester Hunt, had me sing – along with Earl Heckethorne, for a Christmas program: I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day. To my knowledge- I have sung it to or with groups every year since, even when in a typhoon in 63. Here it is, 2018, & we’re doing it again. Brother John is now 95 & lives in Richmond, Va. Sister Freda is 92 & lives in Fl., Brother Howard is 90 & went sky diving 1st of June. Several have died: Norman, Bernice, Fred, Kenneh & Elsie.
I was wounded in Viet Nam, only one of the 6 boys who served, to get that unwabted distinction. Have a family reunion every year, in HRLnsburg, but that 1400 mile round trip is wearing on me. Eyes never were good *been wearing glasses since 1935. Oh, ND ONE EVER KNEW MW a George, it WAS (& IS) rANDY OR Randall.
I have a photograph of my Grandfather at his desk circa 1921 & then photographs of a schoolhouse that he went back to visit in 1956. He grew up on a farm in Mercer. The picture from 1956 looks just like this school. Is it possible that he would have lived in Mercer and gone to this school? Or would it be too far away?