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Mrs. Mary Lou Burg's 3rd grade students, 1968-1969, at Violet Hill Elementary School, Spring Garden Township, York County, PA (Source: Shorpy, The American Historical Photo Archive; https://www.shorpy.com)

Recollections of Violet Hill Elementary School

The Violet Hill Alums Group shared geographic recollections of Violet Hill Elementary School that describe the Violet Hill neighborhood of Spring Garden Township as it was from the late 1930’s and onward. Thanks to Thomas Stambaugh and Kathryn Bentz Schwartz for allowing me to illustrate the group’s memories.

The Violet Hill Elementary School, along Tri Hill Road, opened in the fall of 1937, as a Depression-era Public Works Administration project and operated until the spring of 1973. The initial years featured first through sixth grades, with no cafeteria. During the 1940s, a cafeteria was added and by the later part of the 1950s, the building housed kindergarten through fourth grade classes. The introductory photo shows Mrs. Mary Lou Burg’s 3rd grade students during the 1968-1969 school year.

Prior to the construction of Violet Hill Elementary School, students attended Violet Hill One-Room School; at one time located approximately at the present South George Street entrance to The York Hospital. That one-room schoolhouse was crowded, since the last few years of use required a second building.

For many years the Violet Hill Elementary School was the singular focal point on the hill. Even ten-years after the school opened, that fact remained just as pronounced; as seen via the historic 1947 aerial photo of the school and surroundings.

Violet Hill Elementary School surroundings in 1947, which is 10-years after the school opened in 1937 (July 4, 1947 Historic Aerial Photo; Annotated by S.H. Smith, 2020)

The Violet Hill Alums Group describes the neighborhood’s history by sharing geographic recollections at all compass points surrounding Violet Hill Elementary School:

“To the east:

As of 1955, Tri-Hill Drive leading from the school downhill to Queen Street didn’t exist. There was operating farmland there from future Tollgate Road up the hill to where Kirschners’ home was on the north side of the Queen Street and Tri-Hill Road intersection.”

“To the south:

From at least 1941 until 1954, the large Babner farm covered the entire property uphill and bordering the Violet Hill school grounds; land now comprising Crescent Road, Randolph Drive, and the eastern Greendale Road area. The Babner farm was all you could see looking southward from the back of Violet Hill school. This area was developed with many Epstein homes from 1955 onwards. As of late 1955, only 3 homes stood on the entire length of the Randolph Drive loop.”

“To the west:

As of late 1955, Sleepy Hollow Road terminated at the Tri-Hill Road intersection. Dating from the late 1930’s, there was a farm at the northwest corner of Sleepy Hollow Road and Tri-Hill Road. Immediately west of Violet Hill school property was horse pasture utilized by that farm, although its ownership remains unknown. In 1961-62 that land along the full western Violet Hill school property line (a tree line with barbed wire fencing back then) was still horse pasture. Sleepy Hollow Road had been extended from Tri-Hill Road over to Greendale Road intersection sometime between 1956 and 1958.”

“Don LoPiccolo recalls walking to school up Tri-Hill Road from South George Street in the late 1930’s. Tri-Hill Road was a gravel road back then and two-thirds way uphill to school he could look up to the left (the area of Frontenac Court and Scarboro Drive homes today) and see cornfields on the hill north of the roadway.”

“To the north:

Standing at the front of the Violet Hill school in 1941, Audrey Houck recalled seeing nothing on the opposite side of Tri-Hill Road except fallow meadow land. An aerial photo of North Strathcona Drive, Scarboro Drive, and South Strathcona Drive, as of late 1955, shows numerous empty lots between homes on those streets. This neighborhood was developed from many Detwiler properties, and began to develop immediately post WWII based on real estate records.”

“As we can now more fully see, from its prime and rural location on top of Tri-Hill Road, The Violet Hill Elementary School and its grounds were literally the focal point of the neighborhoods that grew up to surround it from the 1940’s and onwards.”

Early in 1974, Spring Garden Township purchased the former Violet Hill Elementary School site from the York Suburban School District. That year, the schoolhouse was converted into a municipal building; housing the Spring Garden Township Police headquarters and the township’s recreation commission.

When students attended Violet Hill Elementary School, several small simple ball fields were behind and to the east of the school. However after the township purchased the property, Mike Graybill and Bill Plate were the prime movers in convincing Spring Garden Township to construction the really nice baseball field, that until recently existed, at the Violet Hill site. That baseball field opening about 1975 and became the home field for the township’s Baseball For Youths program.

The following 2018 areal photo shows the former Violet Hill Elementery School and Baseball Field along Tri Hill Road. In 2020, the Spring Garden Township New Municipal Building is being constructed on the site of the baseball field.

Former Violet Hill Elementery School and Baseball Field along Tri Hill Road, Spring Garden Twp.; in 2020 the Spring Garden Township New Municipal Building is being constructed on the site of the baseball field (2018 Bing Aerial Photo)

The following Murphy Dittenhafer Architects conceptual rendering is of Spring Garden Township New Municipal Building and Violet Hill Park. The blue patches, between the building and park, are basketball courts. Violet Hill Park, at the right side, also includes walking path, accessible walking loop, a picnic pavilion and playground. The Violet Hill Park replaces the former Violet Hill Elememtary School building.

Conceptual rendering of Spring Garden Township New Municipal Building and Violet Hill Park by Murphy Dittenhafer Architects (From sign on perimeter fence at job site along Tri Hill Road; S.H. Smith photo 9/27/20)

The sign on the perimeter fence notes the anticipated completion is December 2020. This photo shows the construction progress for the New Municipal Building, as of September 27, 2020.

Spring Garden Township New Municipal Building, built on site of former baseball field along Tri Hill Road (Construction progress as of 9/27/20; S.H. Smith photo)

Then and now photos of the Violet Hill Elementary School building, depict the building as a public school from 1937 until 1973 and now, as a municipal building through 2020. After the new municipal building is occupied, the former Violet Hill Elementary School building will be demolished to create Violet Hill Park.

Violet Hill Elementary School building, then and now; in 2021, the building will be demolished to create Violet Hill Park (Then photo via Pinterest; Now photo by S.H. Smith)

A Violet Hill Park memorial will be dedicated to the teachers and students who attended Violet Hill Elementary School, which formerly stood on the park ground.

The Violet Hill Alums Group shared: “We are grateful to Spring Garden Township for recognizing with us the historical, academic, and cultural significance of Violet Hill and for helping to remember Violet Hill for future generations to inhabit this neighborhood where Spring Garden Township offices will also now call their home.”

Click on this LINK for a yorkblog.com Full View of the photos in this post.

Links to related Violet Hill posts include:

Violet Hill in Spring Garden Township; Assorted Maps, Hotel & Schoolhouses

Violet Hill in Spring Garden Township, Part 2; plus A. B. Farquhar’s Estate “Edgecomb”

Violet Hill in Spring Garden Township, Part 3; Violet Hill Cafe, Joseph Lopiccolo

LoPiccolo’s in Violet Hill connection to The Woods in Springettsbury Township

Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts