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Harry W. Lockley Elementary School - New Castle PA

In the early 1950’s the New Castle Board of Education started looking into replacing some of its older schools, including the aging Oak Street School on the East Side of New Castle. Several locations on the East Side were looked at before a site just east of Scott Street – near where it intersects E. Main St – was “selected” in August 1953.

The majority of the six-acre site was owned by William H. Butler, but four other men owned smaller lots at the location. In early August 1953 the school board offered Butler $8,000 for his part of the property, but he held out asking for $10,000. Oh well! On August 19, 1953, the city went forth by condemning the Butler property (I assume Mr. Butler got his $8,000) and making offers to purchase the four smaller lots. Architect Robert A. Eckles was also hired to design the new school.

The proposed school was soon named for the late Harry W. Lockley, a local businessman and engineer well-known thorough out the East Side. Lockley was born in Lawrence County on January 10, 1882, was a lifelong Methodist, worked for the Johnson Bronze Company for a time, and founded the Lockley Machine Company on County Line Road in 1921. He retired in 1937 and turned his company over to his four sons. Lockley was a big supporter of education in the area and came out of retirement during World War II to teach in the machine shop at the New Castle Vocational School (next to Ben Franklin Middle School). He passed away in New Wilmington at the age of sixty-six on October 27, 1948.

Construction was started on the modern, one-story elementary school in April 1954. The new school, which was constructed at a cost of $600,000, was opened for classes on Wednesday, September 7, 1955. The school was officially dedicated during an evening ceremony on Thursday, December 1, 1955. My father (the Bales family lived just nearby on Scott Street) was probably at Lockley when it opened in September 1955 – having previously attended Croton Elementary School – and I believe he completed grades 4-6 there.

These days the school serves kindergarten-aged children and is known officially as the Harry W. Lockley Kindergarten Center. In June 2010 a consolidation plan called for a major addition to the old Lockley School. The building will be expanded to over twice its original size and be renamed as the Harry W. Lockley Early Learning Center. It will serve pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, and possibly kids up to the first grade level. To facilitate the expansion the city is purchasing an adjacent property owned by Solid Rock Ministries. Construction is slated to begin in the fall of 2011 and the estimated cost is between $16-19 million. The new and improved school bearing the name of Harry W. Lockley will apparently be around for many more years.

To read the obituary for the school’s namesake click on: LOCKLEY’S OBITUARY.

Harry W. Lockley, a skilled engineer and founder of the Lockley Machine Company, was a champion of educational causes in New Castle for many years. He passed away in 1948 and the school board later paid homage by naming its new Croton area school in his honor.

Construction commenced on the one-story Harry W. Lockley Elementary School in April 1954. The new school, which was constructed at a cost of $600,000, was opened for classes on Wednesday, September 7, 1955.

The school was officially dedicated during a ceremony held on Thursday, December 1, 1955. (Photo courtesy of Dee Dee Laird) (2008) Full Size

These kids took part in a talent show held in the school auditorium in about May 1984. In this photo the combined group is singing a rendition of “We Are The World” to close out the show. (Laird photo)

4th grader Dee Dee Laird participated in the talent show with a display of ballet. She took ballet lessons at Debbie Menichino’s Dance Studio in New Castle. (Laird photo)

The stern Dr. Mabel R. Paige, who served as principal of various schools to include Lockley in the early 1980’s. Paige, a native of Penn Hills, became the first African-American administrator in the New Castle school district when she was promoted to principal of the West Side School in 1969. (c1984) (Laird photo)

Mrs. Kristine L. Bruno, an Indiana University graduate who taught 2nd grade at Lockley in the 1980’s. (c1984) (Laird photo)

Mrs. Deanna “Dee Dee” George, a Slippery Rock University graduate and a 1st grade teacher at Lockley in the 1980’s. (c1984) (Laird photo)

The front of Lockley Elementary off of N. Scott St. Jul 2010.

The letters marking the name of the school. Apr 2009.

The long driveway (Osage St) leading up to the school from the north. My dad would have made this walk many a times as a youngster. Jul 2010.

The classrooms located towards the back of the small school. Jul 2010.

The back of the stone marking the burial spot of Harry Lockley and his wife Mabel in Oak Park Cemetery in New Castle. This is one of the many newsworthy stones I accidently happened across while walking various cemeteries. A good find! (Aug 2010)

A closeup of Harry’s inscription on the front of the stone. I tried to hide but you can see my reflection in the top of the photo. (Aug 2010)

The $22.9 million (total cost) “Additions & Alterations” project of the Lockley facility was finally granted final approval in November 2012, after several years of study, debate, and dispute. Gutting of the old building, which will form the core of a much larger facility, commenced soon after. Evacuation and construction of the new additions began in early January 2013. (Aug 2013) Full Size

(Aug 2013)

(Aug 2013)

(Aug 2013) Full Size

The old building (seen in background) being renovated for incorporation into the massive new school. (Aug 2013)

This sign sits near the former St. Joseph The Worker Parochial School off Cascade Street, which is housing the city’s kindergarten pupils for the 2013-14 school year. (Aug 2013)

(May 2014)

(May 2014)

The front of the new Lockley Early Learning Center as it nears completion. (May 2014) Full Size

(May 2014)

(May 2014)

(May 2014) Full Size


  1. I remember playing baseball on the field that existed in that location before the school was built. That would have been in the mid 40s. Just below the field, on Scott St, the Sid Lockley family resided.

  2. I was born in New Castle and attended Lockley Elementary school in 1970-1976. That school touched a lot of young peoples lives because if we didnt go there where would we be? I also worked at Lockley Machine (Lockley Manufacturing) the school and the machine shop looked identical. The same design the Forman’s office mirror’d the school same tile same design.
    Every one was touched by this Mentor “Harry W. Lockley” one way or another I was not the only one in New Castle who reaped the harvest that Mr. Lockley sewed.
    Not to mention the Lawrence County Vocational Technical School was built to help serve the community in the mid 70’s.
    The Lawrence County Vocational Technical School has a Machine Shop Tech class there just to keep Mr. Lockley’s dream continueing.

    He touched alot of young peoples lives one way or another thats the main idea here.

  3. Lockley carries many good memories for me as well. I lived on Cumberland Avenue, probably less than a half mile away, but the uphill trek seemed much longer. Sometimes strange things stick in our minds, but I remember looking out the window of Miss Helen Georgeadis’s sixth grade classroom on May 1, 1963 at several inches of fresh snow! It was also at Lockley where we all gathered around a small television on Feb. 20, 1963, my 12th birthday, to watch the coverage of John Glenn’s orbital voyage into space.

  4. I attended Lockley school in the 6th Grade on the first day it opened . Our teacher was Mrs Griffith . We had an awesome basketball team ! I also learned to dance that year thru thru the Aurtur Murry dance classes that were held there. That year we were graced by Bill Haley and the Comets “Rock Around the Clock” Rock and Roll had just begun! I lived on Oak St and walked to school down Ray St to Scott St . Lockley was a great modern improvement from the old Oak St School . Thanks for the great old pictures and memories.

  5. I went to Lockley, too, starting in 1958. We moved away for my 4th grade year, but back for 5th and 6th. I’m remembering now 50 years ago – November 22, 1963, learning about President Kennedy’s death. I don’t think that we got out early, but I remember running home as fast as I could, taking the short cut through the woods. I also remember walking up & down Brooklyn Ave! Remember Mrs. Gibola (sp?) the crossing guard on Ray Street? There’s a picture of her on the “New Castle Pennsylvania is my Hometown” facebook page.

  6. I attended Lockley Elementary School 1958 – 1964. I remember Mrs Fiscus, my fifth grade teacher. And, Mr Mesol, my sixth grade teacher. I remember the school gathering in the gymnasium to watch the moon shots. I remember playing volleyball in Mr Mesol’s class. The saddest day I remember was my eleventh birthday, November 22, 1963, when we first heard President Kennedy had been shot, then, that he died. We still went out to the playground for recess, but it just wasn’t the same. I remember being in a picture on the front page of the New Castle News on one of the last days of school! Good times! Good memories!

  7. I attended Lockley from 1964 to 1970. My first memories were going to school in first grade and meeting my teacher Mrs. Ruhall. Does anyone know what happened to her? I picked up a book to look at and couldn’t read yet so I just looked at the pictures. I met my childhood friends there and we grew up together. I’ll never forget those days or the teachers. Also had Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Miller, Mrs. McCurdy, Mrs. Fiscus, and Mr. Kennedy and Mr.Mesol.

  8. I am Mr. Kennedy’s daughter.

  9. Went to Lockley on the first day it opened, having gone to Oak Street for 4th. grade….Mrs. Fiscus was my 5th grade teacher and tolerated no nonsense, but i think that was just to make us think she was in charge..

  10. I played little league baseball for 3rd ward 1965/1966 on the baseball fields behind Lockley school

  11. Couldn’t wait til I was old enough to go in the front doors instead of the back
    Sure miss the good old days..

  12. I had Mr. Theobald for 6th grade and was a crossing guard. Also went to Oak Street.

  13. lockley will always carry fond memories to me. Living on North Ray Street, I had a short walk and always enjoyed them even in the snow. Although the new structure is impressive, it saddens me to not being able to see the old Lockely as it was.


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