Podcast Companion Exhibit

The One-Room School House

School Houses

What's Here

One Room All Together

Richard J. Fraise’s 1888 History of Education in Beaver County

The Price of Free Schools

Photos: Northern Beaver County School Houses

Photos: Nearby School Houses

One Room All Together

One-room school houses were typically uninteresting in their architecture; aesthetically, form followed function.  Most were built of logs, wood planks, stone, or bricks favoring a rectangular floor plan. However, there were exceptions.  Some school houses were built in an octagonal style for better lighting. Some where ornate. And some were even two or three stories. 

The design of one-room schools was often carefully considered.  Historians at the Locust Grove Schoolhouse museum state in “Typical Characteristics of One-Room Scholhouses” that builders often worked from architectural guides:  

They specified “pediments and arches over prominent entrances and prominent entry towers or bell towers denoting the school’s public function” and recommended “modest brackets” to distinguish common stone buildings as public institutions. One-room schoolhouse plans did not incorporate windows in the wall opposite the main door, so as not to backlight the teacher or blackboard writing. Large side windows were specified to allow natural daylight to illuminate the building even on cloudy or rainy days. Architects even suggested that windows be placed only on the left side of the classroom, as to not create shadows for right-handed scholars’ when practicing penmanship.

As the name implies, students and teacher conducted their business in one room, usually heated by a by a central coal or wood stove. Buildings sometimes had small ante rooms, closets, or storage spaces, but the defining feature of these schools was their grand room were all instruction and other daily school activities were held. In many situations, male teachers (and their families) lived in rooms or attached buildings often called a teacherage. Female teachers (oftentimes single) typically lodged nearby with a local family.

Richard J. Fraise's 1888 History of Education in Beaver County

This 19th century account of the origins of education and schooling in Beaver County is perhaps our most detailed and definitive historical record on the subject. Click the image below to view and read the document online. 

The Price of Free Schools

School tax receipt for Susie West, resident of South Beaver Township, Pa. 1937. Source unknown.

Following the state legislature’s lead, Beaver County was an early adopter of the free school system of education.  To pay for schools, a system of taxation was created nearly a century before this 1937 tax receipt was established. Beaver County historian Richard Fraise writes:

The act of the [Pennsylvania] assembly establishing the free schools of the commonwealth was approved by the governor April 1, 1834 . . . The order of advance was first the private pay school; then the public pay school; then the academy or seminary, and lastly the public free school. It took time, and money, and patience, and more—earnest effort to reach the last. Opposition had to be encountered. Those not liberally educated themselves were averse to being taxed for the education of others. The efforts of General Lacock, Dr. Pollock and others of like character were required to convince the people that the public-school system was not only the best, but the cheapest for all classes. It equalized the burdens of society, and was the true safe-guard of republican institutions. Progress, of course, was made slowly. The victory, however, was won at last; and school-houses of an improved character, occupied with better furniture and more intelligent and efficient teachers, sprang up in every neighborhood. (History of Beaver County, p. 221)

Photos: Northern Beaver County School Houses

Big Beaver

  1. Beatty School
  2. Calhoon School
  3. Clarks Run School
  4. Dam School
  5. Hoytdale School
  6. Thompson School
  7. Wallace Run School
  8. Whan School


  1. Braden School
  2. McKinley School

Darlington Area

  1. Brush Run School
  2. Hartshorn School
  3. Greersburg Academy
  4. Mt. Nebo School
  5. Oakdale School


  1. Eastvale School


  1. Homewood School

New Galilee

  1. New Galilee School

New Sewickley

  1. Brenner School

North Sewickley

  1. Bologne Valley School


  1. Fairview School

South Beaver

  1. Blue Ridge School
  2. Court School
  3. Groscost School
  4. Johnson School
  5. Lime Kiln School
  6. McElheney School
  7. McCloy School
  8. Saint Rest School

West Mayfield

  1. Edwards School

Court School
South Beaver Township

Johnson School
South Beaver Township

Thompson School
Big Beaver Borough

Fairview School

Hartshorn School

Greersburg Academy

Oakdale School

Old Fairview School
Ohio Township

Mt. Nebo School

Bologne Valley School
North Sewickley Township

St. Rest School
South Beaver Township

Brush Run School

Mt. Nebo School

McCloy School
South Beaver Township

New Galilee School
New Galilee Borough

Homewood School
Homewood Borough

Eastvale School
Eastvale Borough

Edwards School
West Mayfield Borough

McElheney School
South Beaver Township

Bennett's Run School
North Sewickley Township

Brenner School
New Sewickley Township

Braden School
Chippewa Township

Brittain School
New Beaver Borough

Photos: Nearby School Houses

Benvenue School
Marion Township

We welcome factual corrections and meaningful clarifications regarding the content on this page. Please contact us: website@LittleBeaverHistorical.org