A History of the Norwin School District, Part II

This is the second in a series of articles about the history of Norwin and its school system, written by Dr. Ronald B. Surmacz with original research by C.C. Pearsall.

On the Muse property, at the entrance to the Joseph Funk farm, stood a one-room school called ‘Point Pleasant.’ It was abandoned about the same time as the original Wray School (early 19th century) and the pupils from both these schools were sent to the new Point Pleasant School located on the farm owned by Peter Lazar.

A one room building, the Jacksonville School, was located along the “Pike”, near the Robinson property. A second school was built there later on. It was eventually abandoned and the property was sold. The students were then enrolled in a consolidated school at Circleville.

In 1862, the Coal Hollow School was built on land given to the district by the Westmoreland Coal Company. It accommodated pupils from Shawtown, Penn Shaft and Coal Hollow. The school was closed in 1895 and the land was returned to the coal company.

In 1824, a two room building was erected at Fairmont. Previously, pupils from this area were sent to Hahntown for classes. The Fairmont building was destroyed by fire in 1903, and while the building was being replaced, classes were held in the home of Amos Stitely. A three room building was constructed as a replacement and its size was increased by a one-room portable addition later.

About one-half mile north of the Pennsylvania Railroad at Larimer, a school was built in 1857, first called Larimer School, then Dirling School. It served that community well into the 20th century. It was the last one-room building used for school purposes in North Huntingdon Township.

Wentling School, near Biddle was built around 1862 on land purchased from John Wentling. It was a one-room structure with a high ceiling, lined with floor boards and entirely unplastered. Heat was supplied by one stove.

The Wardentown School was the first brick building in the district, erected in 1876. It originally was in North Huntingdon Township, but became part of Irwin Borough when the Borough limits were extended.

In 1885, Professor W. J. Hohney taught the first public high school in a six room brick school building located on Main Street in Irwin. At the completion of the two-year course in 1887, eleven (11) students were graduated. However, no ceremony took place to mark the event. The next class graduated in 1889 and numbered six (6) pupils. The curriculum consisted of

  • 4 years of English
  • 2 years of Latin
  • 2 years of Algebra
  • 1 year of Plane Geometry
  • 1 year of Arithmetic
  • Physical Geography
  • Civics
  • Ancient and U.S. History
  • Spelling

PHOTO: Main Street, Irwin, Pennsylvania. Norwin Historical Society/Jean Soyke Collection.