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New Wilmington Public School - New Wilmington PA

In the late 1800’s the children of New Wilmington, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania, were served by a public schoolhouse located on West Vine Street where it intersects North Haw Street in the downtown area. I believe this school was built in about 1868, and replaced a log cabin school that was located west of the town for many years. In about 1908 or so the local school board began serious discussions on the issue of financing and building a new schoolhouse. The issue was bogged down for some time, but by early 1910 it was finally decided to build a new school right next to old schoolhouse on Vine Street.

Work began on the excavation and construction of the basement of the new building in about early March 1910. Soon after classes for all grades let out for the summer in early May 1910 the workmen went about demolishing the old building right next door. The new school opened for classes – albeit late – on Monday, October 17, 1910. I believe at that time the high school curriculum was expanded to four full years through the twelfth grade. The school continued to grow in class sizes and a four-room addition built onto the side of the school opened in mid-September 1930. At that time there were eleven faculty members at the school, which served all grades, including supervising principal Gerald E. Nord, who later served as principal of Bessemer Schools (1932-1942) and Ben Franklin Junior High School in New Castle (1942-1959).

The Vine Street building continued to serve all grades for a number of years, as the school and the school district in general grew in size. The Wilmington Joint School District, encompassing students from New Wilmington Boro, Volant Boro, Wilmington Township in Lawrence County, and Wilmington Township in Mercer County, was reorganized as the Wilmington Area Joint School District in July 1955 and joined by the townships of Plain Grove, Washington, and Pulaski. When the modern Wilmington Area Junior-Senior High School opened in late 1958 the old building on Vine Street was renamed as the New Wilmington Elementary School. It served the school district in conjunction with other elementary schools located at New Bedford, Volant, and Plain Grove.

In the mid 1970’s the Wilmington Area Joint School District, facing overcrowding in the ranks of its aging elementary schools, decided to replace the old buildings in New Wilmington and Volant with a modern elementary school to be located in New Wilmington. In the summer of 1976 the second floor of the Vine Street building was ordered closed due to its wooden floors and beams being in violation of various fire codes. The school remained in use until about 1980 when the modern New Wilmington Elementary School opened on Wood Street, right next door to the expanded Wilmington Area Junior-Senior High School. The old school building on Vine Street was later converted into an apartment building and still serves in that capacity today.

I believe this postcard depicts the older red-brick New Wilmington Public School on Vine Street that stood from 1868-1910. It housed students of all ages and was home to the New Wilmington High School. (c1907) Full Size

An old postcard showing the New Wilmington Public School, which opened on Vine Street in October 1910. (c1915)

Another postcard of the New Wilmington Public School, sometimes referred to as the Vine Street School. (c1922) Full Size

New Wilmington High’s basketball team from 1928-29 school year. (1929) (Courtesy of Merrianne McGill) Full Size

The basketball squad from the 1940-41 school year. (1941) Full Size

Walt “Foxy” Whitman, a graduate of Grove City College, served as high school principal and/or supervising principal (superintendent) from 1929-1962. The first ever official high school yearbook, known as Le Renard (“The Fox”), was published in his honor in 1949. (1948)

Henry “Russ” Byler (1905-1987), a graduate of Columbia University, served as a science and chemistry teacher from 1945 until he retired in about 1968. His wife Alice also taught in the same school system. (1952)

Jacob Bumgardner (1896-1980), a graduate of Penn State University, was the longtime instructor of agriculture at the high school. Whitman, who retired in about 1966, remained well involved in local school and civic affairs. (1952)

The Junior class of the New Wilmington High School from the 1948-49 school year. (1948) Full Size

Seventh and eighth graders from the 1948-49 school year. (1948) Full Size

The Commercial Club, where students were taught about business management, from 1948-49. Commercial teacher and senior adviser Miss Helen Dunn is at top left. (1948)

The Home Economics Club from 1948-49. (1948)

Varsity basketball players taking instructions from head coach Bob “Fuzz” Eagleson. (1948)

The varsity basketball squad in action during early 1949. (1948)

The girls basketball squad on 1948-49. This team, founded back in 1946, was undefeated for its third straight season. (1949) Full Size

The cheerleading squad from 1948-49. (1948) Full Size

The senior class of 1952-53, pictured (on right) with senior class adviser Mr. Russ Byler. (1952) Full Size

Seventh graders from the 1952-53 school year. (1952) Full Size

The Senior Prom of May 1952 was held at the Shenango Inn in Sharon. Prom attendees dance the Congo in the photo above. (1952) Full Size

The 1952-53 Greyhounds varsity basketball team coached by Bob “Fuzz” Eagleson (on far left). This talented squad finished the regular season 17-4, which included two losses to powerhouse Wampum High. They won two playoff games against Bessemer and Zelienople before losing to Mount Jackson 50-44. (1953) Full Size

Players and managers rest on the bench during the 1952-53 basketball season. Head coach Fuzz Eagleson is seated at far right. (1953) Full Size

Three members of the 1952-53 Greyhounds varsity basketball team. Senior guard Tom Hartwell was selected to the Section XX “First Team.” (1952) Full Size

The baseball team from the spring of 1952. The had a handful of games rained out and finished with a record of 2-2. This squad was coached by Bob “Fuzz” Eagleson. (1952) Full Size

The aerial view of the New Wilmington Public School on Vine Street. This school served as the High School from 1910 until the modern New Wilmington High School opened in September 1958. (1948) Full Size

A view of the right front corner of the old Vine Street School, with the four-room addition visible on the far left. (Nov 2010)

The facade of the old school above the main entrance. (Nov 2010)

A good view of the four-room addition that was completed in September 1930. (Nov 2010)

Today the building is still in use but has been converted into an apartment building. (Nov 2010)


  1. Hi I seen you have pictures of the old school house in new Wilmington that are now apartments.. I was wondering if by any chance you know a number to get ahold of the person who runs the apartment building?
    Thanks in advance

  2. I was wondering if I could have the number to contact the owner to rent an apartment here?!


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