Wednesday, July 26, 2017

History Snapshot--School Days in Dayton, PA

Just browsing through some old photos of my hometown and found these of my alma mater.  Re-read some of the history and thought I'd share it for you history buffs.  It has an interesting story for Small Town USA.

This school was built in 1867 as a Soldiers' Orphans Home for children of deceased Civil War veterans in the county.  With raised capital of $15,000, it was built on 35 acres in Dayton, Armstrong County, PA.  It consisted of three buildings--one for classrooms and the other two were dormitories for boys and girls.  In 1873, two of the buildings burned but were immediately rebuilt.  In 1878, a fourth building was added and was called the shoe shop.  (This building was moved to the northeast corner of the campus in 1926 and is what we all know as the Industrial Arts shop and Ag rooms.)

Pupils were only allowed to remain in the Orphans' school until age 16.  So the number of students had gradually been decreasing.  In 1888, fire again destroyed two of the buildings. The few remaining orphans were distributed among other schools in various parts of the union.  The remaining two buildings, the girls dormitory and the shoe shop, became part of the Dayton Normal Institute and later on part of the Dayton High School. 
The Dayton Normal Institute was founded and chartered in 1905.  The large brick building known as Old Main was constructed at that time.  In 1917, the community decided to change the Normal School to a public-supported high school.  It was difficult at that time to continue an efficient enrollment due to the nearness of Clarion Normal and Indiana Normal which were state supported.  The trustees of the Normal School decided to transfer all the school property and their interests to Dayton Borough for high school purposes.

The first year of high school operation was 1917-18.  Three students were in the graduating class that year!  After two years of operation as a high school, it was changed to a vocational high school.  Dayton Vocational High School was one of the few original schools of PA to come under the Smith Hughes Act which provided for the promotion of vocational education in the states.  This provided a financial benefit to participating schools.  Many students outside the local school area attended this school for the Vocational Ag or Home Ec programs.

In 1927, the auditorium/gymnasium was built on the site where the old shoe shop stood, at a cost of $21,000.  The Home Ec Dept. continued in the old girls' dormitory.  In the spring of 1932, the morning after graduation, this building burned and was a complete loss.  That same year the present brick Home Ec building was built at a cost of $10,000.  When first built, it was one of the most up-to-date home economics buildings in the state.  In July 1946, the school was discontinued as a vocational school.  

On July 11, 1946, articles of agreement were completed between Dayton Borough and Wayne Twp. for a joint school district.  Wayne Twp. purchased an equity in the buildings based on original capital outlay, thus becoming a partner in the ownership of the buildings.  The Twp. also assumed its share of the responsibility of operating the joint school district, Dayton Wayne Joint Schools.  Ten elementary schools in the twp were closed by the end of 1946 (seven had closed prior to 1946), leaving only the Belknap and Calhoun schools open.  The other students were transported to Dayton.

In 1948, Boggs Twp joined the district (having previously sent their students to Kittanning H. S.).  The school district was renamed the Dayton Joint School District.  In 1950, the eastern half of Redbank also joined the district.

The info above was excerpted from History of Dayton District.  You can read some additional info online at the following links:

No comments:

Post a Comment