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Highland Avenue/John F. Kennedy School - New Castle PA

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The Highland Avenue School (shown above) opened for classes in about late 1896 to serve the students of the North Hill section of New Castle. The school was severely damaged by a devastating fire on Sunday, March 19, 1916 and the third floor dome and second floor were lost. A new two-story school was rebuilt around the ground floor and opened sometime in early 1917. This school was in service until a new Highland Avenue Elementary School opened across the street in September 1963. That school was renamed in honor of the late U. S. President John F. Kennedy in December 1963. The old Highland Avenue School was sold in May 1965 and was demolished the following month. (c1902) Full Size

The Highland Avenue School, its massive dome cropped from this photo, was severely damaged in a fire in March 1916. (c1903) Full Size

One of the most famous pupils of the old Highland Avenue School was Billy Sunday Jr., the son of renowned traveling evangelist Billy Sunday Sr. The young boy attended the school for a few weeks in October 1910 while his dad’s religious crusade stopped in New Castle. (1910)

Billy Jr. (center, seated with his dad) and his older brother George (left) did not follow in their famous father’s footsteps. George likely committed suicide in 1933, and Billy Jr., a heavy drinker who was married four times, was killed in a car accident in California in 1938. (1908)

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This photo reveals the locations of the since-demolished Highland Avenue School and it’s replacement – the John F. Kennedy Elementary School. (c2012)

A small apartment building occupies the former site of the original Highland Avenue School on the west side of Highland Avenue. (Jul 2013)

Standing beside the new school and looking across Highland Avenue – to where the old school was once located. (Jul 2013)

The new Highland Avenue Elementary School opened in September 1963, and was renamed as the John F. Kennedy Elementary School that coming December. It initially served kids in grades 1-6. After a reorganization plan was enacted in the summer of 1988 the school became known as the John F. Kennedy Primary Center, serving kids in grades 1-3. When the new Harry W. Lockley Early Learning Center became fully operational the Kennedy building was closed for good in early July 2014. (Jul 2013) Full Size

(Jul 2013)

The cornerstone of the former John F. Kennedy School on Highland Avenue. (Jul 2013)

(Jul 2013)

(Jul 2013)

The John F. Kennedy Primary Center, appraised at $150,000, was closed in July 2014 and soon put up for sale in a sealed bid auction. In September 2014 a bid of $152,000, put forth by the Word of Life Christian Fellowship, was accepted by the school board – even though a later rival bid of $180,000 clouded the issue for some time. I believe final approval is still pending as of the end of 2014. (Jul 2013) Full Size

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  1. I am glad to know that the reason or possible reason for losing this apparently great structure is the result of a fire….and not because it was deemded inadequate…as its sucessor is not even a fraction of this building.

  2. I attended Highland Ave School for part of 2nd grade in Feb-June of 1954 in Miss McNamara’s class. She was a very kind teacher who gave all students a picture at the end of the year of her & her new husband. I hope she had a happy life.

    I wish I still had that picture along with ones of the school before it was moved across the street & renamed in honor of President JFK. It was a beautiful old structure. I have such good memories of the short time I spent there.

  3. I attended Highland Ave School starting in
    1939 going from 1st through 6th grade. I ran every day to school. By the time I got to high school I was pretty fast! (LOL


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