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Hillsville Public Schools - Hillsville PA

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Hilltown or Hillsville, a village laid out in 1824, was served by several small schools over the years. The school shown above, which served the community in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, stood on Main Street across from the United Methodist Church (now on the grounds of the old cemetery). It was closed when the new two-story Mahoning Township Consolidated School opened in Hillsville in September 1929. (1912) (Photo courtesy of Chris Gregg)

This photo depicts Room #4 from the Hillsville School in the fall of 1917. (1917) Full Size

Room #6 of the Hillsville School pictured in October 1918. The teacher is R. F. Dicks. (1918)

The back of this photo is marked as “Room No. 1/2, First Year Primary, Oct 1918, Hillsville School, Morning School.” (1918)

This photo is marked with “Work Done by by (sic) No. 5, Hillsville School, April 27, 1921.” (1921) Full Size

Marked as “First Year Primary, Hillsville School, April 27, 1921.” (1921) Full Size

A fifth grade class from the Hillsville School in October 1923. The teacher is Miss Erma Perrine. (1923) Full Size

Fifth and sixth graders from the Hillsville School pictured on April 27, 1921. (1921) Full Size

This photo depicts an unknown class of older kids from the Hillsville School in 1927. (1927) Full Size

In late 1928 work commenced on building a large consolidated school on West Main Street in Hillsville. The site selected was a bit unusual as it was an old quarry. With the help of several limestone companies the pit was filled and twenty-five large pilings were driven into the ground to support the building. The new Mahoning Township Consolidated School, designed by the W. G. Eckles architectural firm and featuring twenty-one rooms, was opened for classes in September 1929. It was officially dedicated during a ceremony on Thursday, January 16, 1930, and initially served all grades. Overcrowding became an issue in the coming years. At some point – likely in the late 1940’s or early 1950’s – an arrangement saw students in grades 9-12 begin attending classes at Union High School. (1967) Full Size

When Mahoning Township joined the new Mohawk Area School District in July 1958 high schools students from Hillsville started attending classes in Bessemer. The building subsequently served as the Mohawk Elementary School at Hillsville. The school was closed in June 1983 when the modern Mohawk Elementary School was slated to open near Bessemer that coming fall. The vacant school was ravaged by fire (due to arson) on August 4, 1985, and was razed later that same year. The property was later sold to the C. D. Ambrosia Trucking Company. (c1975) Full Size

In early 2001 the C. D. Ambrosia Trucking Company came to an arrangement to allow the township to open a playground at the site. The park was named for Elizabeth Birdsell, a local fifth grader who organized the effort to see that the playground was built. (Apr 2014)

Soccer fields, part of the Mohawk Soccer Club’s under 10 teams, were later added to the park. (Apr 2014)

The modern day view of the walkway that once led to the front of the former school. (Apr 2014) Full Size


  1. Jeff,
    Didn’t the Hillsville consolidated building, which was grades 1 through 12 and then 1 through 6 when the Mohawk School District was formed, burn down?

  2. (EDITOR’S NOTE) Greg, You are absolutely correct. The vacant school was severely damaged due to a raging fire on Sunday, August 4, 1985. The fire was apparently the result of an arsonist. The crumbled remains were cleared away beginning in late November 1985 – and the property was subsequently sold. Jeff

  3. Jeff, Just a slight correction. High school students started attending Bessemer High School some time prior to 1951. I started 3rd grade at Hillsville Elementary in 1951 and the high school kids were being transported to Bessemer then. They would congregate on the main corner in Hillsville and a bus from the Hillsville-Lowellville bus company would pick them up. This was before the Mohawk merger.

  4. Looking for any information on St Lucia Club in Hillsville, PA. I was there in 1982, thought it was in an old school basement. Any information would be appreciated. Thanks.

  5. (EDITOR’S NOTE) Bob, the high school students you saw gathered were actually headed to Union High School. I am trying to narrow down when this exactly commenced. I found a few articles where the Union High principal would visit Hillsville and chat with 8th graders about what to expect the following year. In the fall of 1958, after Mahoning Township joined the new Mohawk Area School District, the high schoolers from Hillsville switched and started being sent to Bessemer. Jeff

  6. Jeff,
    The Hillsville 9th through 12th grades attended Bessemer High School and not Union High in the 1940 to 1950’s period.

  7. Hi Jeff,

    I was wondering if there is any way to find a school picture of my father Joseph DiBernardo in the 8th grade or any other one when he was in school in Hillsville, Pa.

    Thank You,
    Toni DiBernardo

  8. I grew up in Bessemer and attended elementary school, jr high and High School. When I entered 7th grade in 1947 it was in the high school building. At that time Hillsville kids starting 9th grade were being bused to Bessemer to complete High School. When I entered 9th grade the class was made up of Bessemer and Hillsville kids. We graduated from Bessemer in 1954. This make up continued until Mohawk opened. I am unaware of any Hillsville kids ever attending Union High School. This is the true situation. I was there.

  9. I attended Hillsville from the Fall of 1961 until the Spring of 1967. I remember a special assembly that was in the gymnasium when I was probably a first grader. There was a black and white portable TV set up on a chair on the gym floor. We all sat down in front of it on our little chairs and the teachers fiddled endlessly with the antenna. We then watched a snowy broadcast of a rocket taking off. As 64 year old adult looking back, I am guessing it was probably the Mercury Atlas 6 launch of John Glenn to be the first American to orbit the Earth. Tuesday, February 20, 1962.

    I remember another time we gathered in the gymnasium. It was because there were two few children in the school to hold regular classes because nearly everyone was out of school with the measles.

    Unlike most of my classmates, I was not in school on the day of the Kennedy assassination, as I was home sick that day. I was one of only a few from my generation to watch all of the events unfold live on TV.

    Perhaps my most vivid memory though was in the Fall of I think 1964. In maybe November of that year, a school bus was going up a hill, on the way to school when it was struck by a truck hauling cars. The bus was knocked over the side of the hill. One of my classmates was killed. A girl classmate lost her right arm. Several classmates returned to school in the proceeding weeks wearing casts, as if returning from a war. I remember our class making gifts for the girl who was hospitalized with the lost limb. She eventually returned with an artificial arm. To her credit, although she had been right handed before the accident, she developed the most beautiful handwriting with her left hand. In hindsight, that was a traumatic time for both the children in the accident and their shocked classmates. Nobody thought about grief counselling in those days. I recall a large school photo of the killed student was eventually permanently displayed in the school library. We would see it every time we walked in the library.

    I also remember corporal punishment. In 5th or 6th grade, I laughed during chorus when my friend Danny made a funny face. We were both sent to the principal. I remember he struck each of us, maybe once, with a large wooden paddle, while an adult witness stood by.

  10. Errata:

    I meant to type “…there were too few children in the school to hold classes…”

    The bus accident occurred on December 11, 1964. In addition to the fatality, 20 other young children and the bus driver were injured. That evening the accident was on the front page of The New Castle News. The pictures in the newspaper of the wreckage are horrific.

  11. Hi. I’ve searched and searched for info on school bus accident. Please could you send me anything and everything pictures included to me. I am the sister of the girl that lost her arm. I was Vicky showman and also in the bus accident. Thank you

  12. I am pretty sure my class was the last class to attend this Hillsville Grade School in 1982.

  13. I just figured out dates the Hillsville Grade Schools actually closed (The one that stood west of the main intersection). It happened while I was in the seventh grade (the 1982-83 school year). My last year there was 1981-82. But during the school year of 1982-83, the classes at Hillsville Elementary were moved to the new Mohawk Grade School behind the current Jr/Sr High school; It happened when the kids were off of school (at Hillsville) in 1982 for Christmas Vacation; they returned to school after New Years in January 1983 at the brand new school that is still in use today (2020).

  14. Well. Some memories were just refreshed by some old classmates. Hillsville kids moved first (82-83 school year) because the boiler quit working in the old building. Bessemer and Mount Jackson came later. This is probably why their is a mix up in the dates.


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