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Number of York County One-Room Schoolhouses, utilizing one teacher for all eight grades, from the 1850s until 1960s (Research by S.H. Smith, 2020)

Schoolhouses of Strinestown and York County numbers

The schoolhouses of Strinestown explain one aspect of the onset of the 1920s decline in the number of York County one-room schoolhouses; which peaked at 354 during 1920.

A nice collection of early common school records and articles is housed in Penn State’s Pattee Library; where I spent several days researching last fall. Those finding were used in my second-generation One-Room Schools talk, which premiered earlier this year.

The Annual Reports of The Superintendent of Common Schools of Pennsylvania provide statistical details gathered from each county in the state. When combined with information in articles and dissertations, the resulting data allows graphing the number of York County One-Room Schoolhouses, utilizing one teacher for all eight grades; from the 1850s until 1960s.

In 1834 the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania passed a law providing the groundwork for our common school system. However it was optional for each municipality to enact local school taxes, in order to gain a State appropriation. The combined funds provided “free” public education for all children in their municipality.

Detail was lacking in the earliest annual reports, however that changed with the Twentieth Annual Report of The Superintendent of Common Schools of Pennsylvania. That report, for the school year ending June 1, 1853, noted: 34 School Districts in York County had adopted Common Schools, utilizing 247 Public Schoolhouses; of which 234 of them were one-room schoolhouses.

Public Schoolhouses are those built and maintained by the school authority. In 1853, public school districts were still renting some facilities to house classes. Renting vacant or church buildings was prevalent during the start-up decades for many school districts. However by the 1880s, almost every school district had determined it was more economical to construct and maintain their school buildings. In York County, one-room schoolhouses of brick construction were in the majority.

One-room schoolhouses of stone construction were popular in some areas of York County; represently 14% of the county one-room schoolhouses by 1900; the remaining 16% were of wood frame construction.

This stone Strinestown schoolhouse in Conewago Township, was built in 1865. It was last used as a schoolhouse during the 1927/1928 school year. This present photo shows it repurposed as a residence, at the north end of Strinestown, along Cemetery Road.

Strinestown One-Room Schoolhouse, Conewago Township, York Co., PA. Built in 1865 and last used as schoolhouse during 1927/1928 school year. (2009 Google Street View)

Roughly from 1920 until the late 1940s, the number of one-room schoolhouses utilized for educational purposes saw a gradual decline; the reasons: Starting in the late 1920s, consolidation within municipalities resulted in the closing of some of their one-room schoolhouses and replaced them with a single consolidated schoolhouse within that municipality. Also as early as the late 1890s, when one-room schoolhouses became overly crowded, communities often built a two, or more, room schoolhouse and closed the one-room schoolhouse.

Strinestown was one of many such communities, or boroughs, in York County doing so, when faced with overcrowding of their one-room schoolhouse; opening this two-room schoolhouse for the 1928-1929 school year. One of the rooms became Strinestown Primary, where a teacher taught grades 1 thru 4, and the other room became Strinestown Grammar, where a teacher taught grades 5 thru 8.

Strinestown Two-Room Schoolhouse, Conewago Township, York Co., PA. Built in 1928 and last used as schoolhouse during 1956/1957 school year. (Photo submitted by Helen Price)

As with many of the earlier two-room schoolhouses, this “modern-looking” building continued to utilize outhouses, just as was done with one-room schoolhouses. At least for the early year, this building had no indoor plumbing, no running water and no electricity. All the big windows were for the sun to light up the rooms, however oil lamps were occasionally used.

The Strinestown Two-Room Schoolhouse stood south of Strinestown along the west side of the Susquehanna Trail. It was designed by Will H. Swartz, Architect, 515 Prospect Street, York, PA; and built by Drawbaugh Builders of Dover. The building no longer stands.

School district consolidation, from the late 1940s and through the 1950s, rapidly put the last 250 one-room schoolhouses out of existence for schooling purposes; although many still stand, repurposed as residences or businesses. The last York County one-room schoolhouse closed in 1961, within Carroll Township, in the northern part of the county.

My second-generation Stories of One-Room Schools talk was presented in January and February; however the talks scheduled in April and onwards have been on a rolling reschedule to the Fall or next Spring; in response to COVID-19. I’ll let everyone know, in future posts, when the talks will recommence.

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

Use the following links as a location and source index for pre-1950 York County schools. The vast majority of these schools are One-Room Schoolhouses:

York County One-Room Schools (A-B)
York County One-Room Schools (C-D)
York County One-Room Schools (E-G)
York County One-Room Schools (H-K)
York County One-Room Schools (L-M)
York County One-Room Schools (N-P)
York County One-Room Schools (Q-R)
York County One-Room Schools (S-T)
York County One-Room Schools (U-Z)

Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts