York Town Square

Part of the USAToday Network

Hidden Loucks School reflects past way of York County life

Over the years, someone with excess white paint camouflaged the 1880s-vintage red brick Loucks School. That plus other alterations has made the West Manchester Township building hard to identify as a former one-room school
That’s not the only way the building and its surroundings have changed.

At one time, Loucks School stood alone in the country. Now, it has the West Manchester Mall as a neighbor.
For 50 years, hundreds of students learned their ABCs there. Then, it became a private residence.
It’s been added onto.
It’s been remodeled.
Now it’s a business.
Not even those interred in a neighboring cemetery — members of the Pfaltzgraff family and vets from the American Revolution and War of 1812 — can easily rest in peace. Heavy traffic scoots along Loucks Road.
At least the building’s still standing, more than can be said about many of its one-room peers across York County.
Such is the story of one of scores of one- and two-room schools that dotted the county’s countryside. At least 10 operated in West Manchester Township alone.
This, from “In the Thick of the Fight” gives a bit more insight into their story:

Many boys and girls ended their formal education in the sixth or eighth grade in the county’s 285 one-room schools, more than any county in the state. City educators encouraged boys to take the York industrial course, alternating two weeks in school and two in city shops. The industries cooperate fully and are anxious to employ these boys with pay,” the city directory stated. The lure of agricultural and industrial jobs often eclipsed higher education. The county did not play host to a junior college until 1941, later expanded into the four-year York College in 1968. This mean people were most adept at working with their hands, and father often passed such skills down to son. S. Forry Laucks, York Safe and Lock’s president, always said, “When you want a job thoroughly done, you can’t beat the Pennsylvania Dutch for doing it.”

This prevalence of one-room schools in York County before World War II contributed to current York County’s stats that show 1 out of 5 people do not have high school degrees.
And yes, Loucks School is one of those buildings that has spawned tales of its students walking four miles to school in four feet of snow, up hill both ways. Except the school sits on relatively flat land.
So there it is, overlooked York County landmark No. 22, the Loucks one-room school. Other overlooked York County sites and landmarks (See posts under York Town Square):
— The Little Courthouse
— Prospect Hill Cemetery
— War Mothers Memorial
— Work War II USO at former York County Academy gymnasium
— York’s Salem Square soldiers monument
— York’s Cookes House
— York’s rowhouses
— Wrightsville’s monuments
— The Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge
— Memorial trees along highways Route 30 & Susquehanna Trail.
— The Inches
— Camp Stewartstown
— The Wrightsville Bridge supports
— New York Wire Co.’s factory whistle
— Mary Ann Furnace
— York’s Hartman Building
— Hanover’s Iron Mike and The Picket
— York’s Eberts Lane
— Helen Reeves Thackston Memorial Park
— WW II defense worker housing
— Shiloh’s former town square