*** ONLINE AS OF AUGUST 5, 2011 ***

Beaver Falls High School - Beaver Falls, PA

The first dedicated high school in Beaver Falls, often referred to as the 11th Street School or Central School, was built in 1872. It was located somewhere on 11th Street near where the U.S. Post Office building now sits. It had ten rooms and a small auditorium, which was converted and divided into two additional classrooms three years later. The first commencement was held on May 20, 1879.

A new two-story high school, also known as the Seventh Avenue School, was built in 1910 on Seventh Avenue between 17th and 18th Streets. An addition was made to this school in 1922 and a new gymnasium was opened in January 1926. An article in the New Castle News on January 29, 1926, reads in part, “No more is it necessary to play on the most unique floor in the world, the old cork spread in a boxlike gymnasium.” The school sports teams adopted the nickname of the Tigers.

The third Beaver Falls High School, located on Eighth Avenue between 16th and 17th Streets, was built in 1930-1931. It had twenty-four classrooms and a large connected building with an auditorium and gymnasium. A series of sports fields were built behind the school, but the football team played their games at 5,500-seat Reeves Field/Stadium (opened in October 1925) at nearby Geneva College. Several additions were later built to the school in 1949 and 1978 to enlarge the capacity of the student body.

The most famous student of this school was undoubtedly local bad boy Joseph “Joe” Namath, a 1961 graduate who excelled in baseball, basketball, and football. The controversial Namath, nicknamed “Broadway Joe,” went on to become a star quarterback with the University of Alabama and the AFL/NFL’s New York Jets. He led Alabama to the National Championship in 1964, quarterbacked the Jets to victory in Super Bowl III in 1969, and was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1985.

In the early 1970’s the school board exploring the idea of building a fourth generation and much larger high school. At that time the local school district expanded as its absorbed students from neighboring areas including Koppel. In July 1970, the school board authorized the purchase of an eighty-acre site just to the north of the existing high school on Eighth Avenue. The site was the former home of the Keystone Driller Company, a pioneering oil and water well drilling outfit founded by Robert M. Downie back in the 1880’s. I believe the company closed down operations back in 1952.

The new modern Beaver Falls Area Senior High School, which cost over $11 million to construct, opened for classes on Tuesday, August 29, 1978. As part of the Big Beaver Falls Area School District it currently houses about 800 students in grades 9-12 from Beaver Falls and the surrounding areas to include Homewood, Koppel, and New Galilee. The vacated high school next door was renovated and reopened as the Beaver Falls Middle School housing students in grades 6-8.

To read a short article about the boys from Beaver Falls High School organizing a football team in 1901 click on: TEAM ORGANIZED ARTICLE. To read an article about an upcoming basketball game between the boys from Ellwood City and Beaver Falls in 1908 click on: BASKETBALL GAME ARTICLE. To learn more about a high school baseball contest between Beaver Falls and New Castle played at Cascade Park in 1909 click: TIE GAME ARTICLE.

This postcard shows Beaver Falls’ second high school, also known as the Seventh Avenue School, which was built in 1910. With the opening of the new high school on Eighth Avenue in 1931 this building was converted into a junior high school. It was later razed in 1978. (c1920) Full Size

Another postcard depicting the Beaver Falls High School. (c1920)

Another view of the old Beaver Falls High School on Seventh Avenue. This old postcard is postmarked in May 1913.

A photo of the Beaver Falls High School on Seventh Avenue c1915. Full Size

The girls basketball team of 1914-15.

The boys basketball team of 1914-15 – the Beaver County Champions.

The football team of 1914-15, who finished as county champs this season and the next. Full Size

The football team of 1916-17, which lost a controversial game to New Castle High School and finished with a record of 6-1-1. Seated on the left I believe is mathematics teacher and head coach Philip H. Bridenbaugh, who coached this team for two seasons before leaving for Geneva College. In the fall of 1922 he became the head coach of New Castle High School and achieved legendary status amassing a record of 265-65-25 over the next thirty-four seasons. Full Size

The student council of 1916-17. Full Size

The Science Club, led by science teacher Mr. Stewart, of 1916-17. Full Size

The 1919-20 girls basketball, led by star senior Francis Schaubhut, finished with a 6-6 record. The defensive-minded games must have been boring by today’s standards as they lost their opener by the score of 7-2 and only scored 104 points all season.

A senior class photo from the 1919-20 school term.

The high school faculty of the Beaver Falls High School from 1919-20. Floyd Atwell, a Grove City College graduate and the Superintendent of Beaver Falls Public Schools, is seated in middle. He had previously served in the school districts of New Brighton and Ambridge. Full Size

A class photo from 1929-30 showing one of the sophomore groups – the future Class of 1932. This photo taken on the front steps of the old high school on 11th Street. Notice the “High School” facade.

A class photo from 1930-31 showing a freshmen group – the future Class of 1934. Also taken at the old high school. Notice the light globes on the posts out front.

The Tiger Band of 1930-31, which was under the direction of Paul Slater.

The cheerleading group known as the Pep Club in 1932-33. Notice the cool tiger costumes!

A postcard of the new Beaver Falls High School c1935.Full Size

Students in front of the Beaver Falls High School during the 1936-37 school year. Full Size

A class photo in progress during the 1937-38 school year. This is a group of juniors that would graduate in June 1939. Full Size

The girls’ Bike Club of the high school during the 1938-39 school year. Full Size

A postcard showing the new Beaver Falls High School on Eighth Avenue c1940.

A photo showing students walking along the front of the Beaver Falls High School on Eighth Avenue during the 1952-53 school year.

The 1969-70 Tigers baseball team, coached by Joe Smartz (top row on right). This squad finished with an 8-4 record but fell short in its bid to win the WPIAL championship, as they had the previous season.

The cheerleaders fire up the crowd during a pep rally held in the gymnasium during the 1969-70 school year.

Here they are – your 1970 State Champions! This hoops team, coached by Frank Chan (bottom left), went 18-4 in combined exhibition and regular season play. The won six straight playoff games to reach the state championship game in Harrisburg, where they steamrolled over Haverford High School by a score of 80-58.

The 1969-70 basketball team celebrates their WPIAL Championship, prior to heading onto to greater glory at the regional and then state finals. It was soon mission accomplished as these boys brought home the school’s first ever state championship.

Beaver Falls’ star quarterback Joe Namath (#19) and head football coach Larry Bruno pose for a team photo in 1960. They led the team to a WPIAL Class A championship that season.

Joe Namath c1959 also excelled at baseball while attending Beaver Falls High School.

Head coach Larry Bruno took over the football program in 1960 and successfully guided it through the next twenty seasons.

Old postcard showing Beaver Falls High School back in the early 1950’s.

Current view of the old Beaver Falls High School – now Beaver Falls Middle School. Jul 2010.

Another view of the old high school. Jul 2010.

The front steps showing the sign reading Beaver Falls Middle School. Jul 2010.

The huge auditorium, with a cafeteria underneath, connected to the old school. (Aug 2010)

The cornerstone of the old school built into the auditorium. (Aug 2010)

A good view of the front of the auditorium of the old school. (Aug 2010)

In this photo you can see the various additions that were built onto the rear of the old high school. (Aug 2010)

Just north of the old school sits the new Beaver Falls High School. (Aug 2010)

The new Beaver Falls High School. The auditorium and the smokestack of the old school is visible in the background. (Aug 2010)

Another view of the front of the new High School, which opened in 1978. (Aug 2010)

The letters spelling out the name of the new high school. (Aug 2010)

Behind the old school sits the various sporting fields of the Larry Bruno Athletic Complex. Bruno coached the Beaver Falls varsity football team for twenty years until he retired in 1979 with a record of 134-52-9. When Joe Namath was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985 Bruno was his official presenter. (Jul 2010)

The football practice field, revonated a few years back, sitting behind the old school. The Tigers have long played their home football games at Reeves Field at nearby Geneva College, but Joe Namath would have spent a lot of time on this green back in the early 1960’s. It’s named in his honor as the Joe Namath Practice Field. (Jul 2010)

The seating area of the Joe Namath Practice Field behind the old high school. (Aug 2010)

The view of the side of the new Beaver Falls Senior High School, as taken from near the old high school. (Jul 2010)


  1. I enjoyed seeing the pictures but don’t understand why they don’t call it Beaver Co. I am a 1952 graduate of B.F. High School.

  2. (EDITOR’S NOTE) Jo Ann, thanks for your compliment on the pictures. I have many more to post in the future. As far as the website name, well I started this as a project to document various historical aspects of Lawrence County. However, I love research and its been difficult to contain my research so I’ve branched out into the neighboring counties – to include Beaver County. One day I may expand this site to include all of Lawrence, Beaver, Butler, and Mercer Counties. But that’s a ways off. Anyway, thanks again. Jeff

  3. Jeff,The original High School was located on 11th. street between 6th. and 5th.ave.In 1919 a fire destroyed the third floor.The bldg. was demolished in 1961.It is now the location of a war monument.

  4. Is there any where I can get copies of old yearbooks? My husband was in Joe Namoth’s class. Thank you

    My husband is Edward James Lorey

  5. I am looking for where I might be able to purchase old yearbooks. My husband Edward James Lorey attended Beaver Falls High School and was in the same class as Joe Namoth. Please email or message me.

  6. If not able to buy one, perhaps looking at one.
    Check at classmates.com. I know they have a lot of New Castle years books .

  7. that was nice i now go to the new beaver falls high school`

  8. this is a great website. I too graduated from BFHS in 1975. for those interested in viewing old BF high school yearbooks, visit the Carnegie Library branch on 7th Ave. ask staffers to visit the upstairs research room, they have several vintage copies of the BF yearbooks, not for sale, but for viewing. I suggest taking a digital camera and make photo copies of what you’d like for a keepsake. Do it soon, while things are still free with no admission costs, etc.

  9. This is great. One correction is that the old 11th Street School was two blocks east of the post office. My father’s law office was at 610 11th Street, near the elementary school. Several Tenors attended that school including yours truly. Ms. Boyce, my sister Joy Tenor graduated in 1952. Did you know her?

  10. I remember seeing Joe Namath playing in a football game at the Ben Franklin stadium in New Castle against a New Castle team probably in 1960. It was obvious he was something special as a quarterback then because I had never seen a high school QB throw a football like he did. He threw tight spirals on a rope and always hit his receiver in the numbers. I don’t remember the score but I would imagine it was lopsided in Beaver Falls favor!

  11. Thank you for the wonderful photos and descriptions. I attended Beaver Falls Junior and Senior high schools from 1956-1961. Many good memories from them.

  12. I truly enjoyed walking down memory lane on your website. I attended Beaver Fall Senior High school from 1964 to 1966. My mom and dad both went to BFHS, along with my two brothers and one sister. Thank you for the nice write up on our school.

  13. Ran into this site and thought it was really cool. Class of 1975.

  14. great site. Graduated in l950. My professional life owes everything to the teachers of my time who taught me through personal example and inspiration YES YOU CAN. Dr. Raymond Murphy Vice President Emeritus Penn State and Distinguished Professor The University of South Carolina

  15. The photos are fantastic! I would like to see all of the team members of Larry Brunos basketball, softball and footballs teams shown during those winning years with Joe Namath. Those guys were all the greatest players in the state of Pennsylvania!

    Are there any pictures of Karlin “Butch” Ryan during his coaching years. I believe he coached a young lady that went to the Olympics(?0.

  16. Rebecca, I think the Carnegie Library in B.F. would have the Butch Ryan photos as they hold many, if not all, of the old yearbooks. Additionally, your local library would be able to borrow microfilm of the old News Tribune for the years he played and I am sure there would photos there. Make sure you request the film for the months football was played.

  17. Would like to find out info on my dad, Raymond Carnelly.
    I think he graduated in 1934. Football, basketball and track star. Went on to play football at Carnegie Mellon and one year with Brooklyn Dodgers football team.
    Looking for high school pics.


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