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. This renovation also included a new roof structure, new windows and interior plaster.[1] The overall foundation is masonry covered by stucco.

The single-bay principle façade, or south elevation, is a gable end masonry wall covered by stucco, with an extended portico over the main entrance. The only building entrance is located in the center of the bay; a four-light transom tops the entryway. The handcrafted wooden paneled door with historically accurate hardware and transom are restorations completed in 2009.[2] An asphalt-shingled roof, supported by two delicate Doric-type columns, and a concrete foundation with two-steps compose the portico. The asphalt-shingled main roof features a belfry with bell at the south end. The belfry extends nearly five feet above the roofline, featuring exposed roof rafter tails at the eaves and decorative (false) beams or brackets at gable ends. A Pocopson School Board archival document specifies the belfry construction to be: 

A frame 5 [by] 5 in well-fastened to ceiling joists of good sound pine and to extend up 4 feet above the roof to hang a bell to be roofed with same material and to have the same pitch as school house. The roof to extend 12 inch out from the posts all around, to be faced and lined and boxed on underside of rafters supported by brackets, and to be lined around with tin to exclude all rain.[3]

All roof-wall junctions at Locust Grove Schoolhouse feature exposed roof rafter tails at the eaves and decorative brackets at gable ends, including the portico and belfry.

The Pocopson Township Historical Committee recently restored the interior to an undivided, 22 feet by 34 feet one-room plan, nearly erasing the more than 50-year residential use of the building. The interior hardwood floors currently reveal partition ghosts and surface irregularities indicating room divisions and fixtures from the residential use, as well as evidence of the one-room schoolhouse period, like the cloakroom walls and blackboard. The plaster window surrounds are curved to allow for more light to enter to the classroom, as the sun changes position each day. The southern-most windows, on both the west and east sides, were enclosed within the cloakrooms; the northern edge of these windows butted to each cloakroom wall, and as a result, this edge of the surround was not curved. The northern interior wall, opposite the entrance, shows evidence of the blackboard. The black surface is applied as an approximately one-half-inch layer over a base of rough plaster and extends the entire width of the interior. The 1870 renovation specifications indicated, “the wainscoating under blackboard to be finished with a cap or ledge 4 in[ches] wide to hold crayon.”[4] The plaster walls are partially intact showing lath and plaster painted a mustard color; the wainscoting and ledge below the blackboard no longer exist.

[1] Board minutes September 5, 1870 and March 20, 1871; the “Draft Doc.”

[2] Pocopson Township Website, Historical Committee,

[3] “Draft Specifications” document framed at Pocopson Township offices, likely to be specifications to contractors for rebuilding of Locust Grove Schoolhouse, document circa 1870.

[4] Framed document, “Draft Specifications…”  page numbered 5.