Spring Garden’s Hess School closing mystery + citizen comment = Case solved
Spring Garden’s Hess School is seen after it was renovated into a private residence in the 1950s. The family of Col. William Beckner, prominent local Civil Defense coordinator during World War II, occupied the former Rathton Road schoolhouse at that time. (See additional photo below.) Background posts: Plaques offer historic insight into ‘The Swamp,’ before Sovereign Bank Stadium drained it and How one York County school district emerged from 1950s merger and One-room school reunions preserve educational culture of thousands of York countians.
York Town Square reader JoAnne Everhart appears to have answered the question of why the former Hess School in the 400 block of Rathton Road ceased to operate as a school.
Martin Beckner, who lived in the school after it became a private residence, had wondered what happened to the school between 1926 and 1936, the year it was renovated.
The short answer, according to JoAnne Everhart: When the Springdale area was consolidated into York City, Hess School students started attending Jackson Elementary.
Here’s Joanne’s excerpted response, which includes wonderful insight about the lives of students in those days:
The former Hess School today, a much-renovated private residence since 1936.
The little boy in the bottom row, fourth from left, (see the initial post) is my dad, Hamilton B. (Ric) Everhart Jr.
He was five years old and in the first grade when this picture was taken. His family resided at 332 Springdale Ave from 1924 though 1946. Dad began school at the Hess School and then completed elementary school at Jackson Elementary on E. Jackson St. in York City. He graduated from William Penn Sr. High School in 1938 at 16 years of age.
Dad told me that when he attended Hess School much of the Springdale area of York City was in Spring Garden Township. Sometime during his childhood, the Springdale area was incorporated into York City. At that time the students at Hess School were sent to Jackson Elementary. That may account for the closing of the school.
Dad told me stories about the school. His favorite was of the mail plane passing over the school on it’s daily rounds. The young boys at the school were aware of this and would try to get permission to go to the schools outhouse during the time the plane was overhead. He said that the pilot would tip his wings to them and wave. Dad was one of the boys, who waited faithfully for the daily flight of the plane. It made a lasting impression on him.
In September of 1942 he enlisted in the US Army Air Corps and served his country through November of 1945 as a flight engineer on a B-29 aircraft crew with the 20th Air Corps. Dad saw combat action in the China-Burma-India Theater as well as the Pacific Campaign. He always said that the six bronze stars he received were the result of a his love for country and airplanes, both of which were instilled in him at Hess School.
Dad’s best friend during his school years at Hess School was Harold “Doc” Daugherty, who later became a well known radio personality at WOYK radio.