Locust Grove School

Early Schools

 Schooling was an important issue from the earliest days of Pennsylvania.  William Penn decreed in 1682 that the Governor and Council “shall erect and order all public schools and encourage and regard the authors of useful sciences and laudable inventions.”  Churches probably served as the first schoolhouses, with the Bible (more often than not the only available book) serving as the main textbook, and the minister taking on the role of teacher.

Locust Grove School Children throughout the years...

Locust Grove Children in 1880's:


Locust Grove Children in 1890's (includes the Barnard children):

Locust Grove Schoolhouse throughout the years

Locust Grove Schoolhouse in the 1930's:


Locust Grove Schoolhouse in 1943 as a private residence owned by the Broadbelt family:

Lesson 1: Photos and Documents

What is the same, what is different, and how do we find out?

In this lesson, children will use photographs and copies of a historic primary 
source document to compare and contrast the experience of going to school in the past 
and present. 
Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to: 
  • Name four differences between their schoolroom today and the Locust Grove Schoolhouse.
  • Name four similarities between their schoolroom and the Locust Grove Schoolhouse.

Locust Grove Schoolhouse Announces New Teacher (1904)

An article for the West Chester Daily Local dated January 1, 1904 stated:

This morning the Locust Grove School House in Pocopson township was reopened with a new teacher after being closed for several weeks for want of an instructor.  This school was the one taught by Miss Helen Harvey, of this place, who was roughly treated and cut by some of the pupils.  Director Caldwell, who was in town Saturday, says that the new teacher ought to be able to handle the school, as is his name is Sampson, and he is a tall sturdy man of some experience. 

History of the Locust Grove School

Initial construction details for the Locust Grove Schoolhouse are unclear. In an 1816 deed of Indenture, male inhabitants of East Marlborough, West Bradford, and Pennsbury Townships created what would later become the Locust Grove School. The initial parcel of land was given for the cost of 1 cent each year for 99 years from William Cloud. This deed supports the belief that the Locust Grove Schoolhouse was built that year on the newly deeded land.

Pocopson Township Schools and Education History, 1850 through 1923

The Locust Grove School documented history from December 1855 through 1923 overlaps two major periods in Pennsylvania education history: The Rise of the Common School System, 1818-1867[1] and The Long Progressive Era, 1867-1930. [2] School construction, reform, and oversight characterized the 1840s and 1850s; this period benefited from standardization in general, including teacher traini

1870 Construction Clues

The construction history of the Locust Grove Schoolhouse is still a mystery. Although there is documentary evidence that the Schoolhouse existed before 1870, it is not verified when it was originally constructed or what the building looked like prior to 1870. The Pocopson School Board minutes use a variety of descriptions to record the 1870 building period: building, rebuilding, construction, and renovation. Architectural clues from the roof and cellar shed light on the 1870 “renovation.”

Roof Construction Clues (Text)

Locust Grove Schoolhouse Architecture

The Locust Grove Schoolhouse is a typical example of a rural southeastern nineteenth-century Pennsylvania schoolhouse. A date stone above the Locust Grove Schoolhouse portico reads 1870; this date refers to the rebuilding of a preexisting schoolhouse, which expanded the original foundation and extended the front façade, adding two cloakrooms, a belfry, and portico entry to the prior design.