The History And Future Of The College Heights School
If you’ve ever driven from campus to the Walmart on Atherton Street, you’ve probably seen the College Heights School. It’s an unassuming brick building on the side of the road, and these days traffic passes by it but rarely through it.
Information about the building is hard to find, save for a book by the former superintendent of State College Schools, Jo Hays. Hays served as superintendent from 1927-56 and saw exponential growth of the school district. He wrote The Public Schools of the State College Area: A History to recount how the public school system of State College expanded.
The book gives insight into the creation of the first State College public schools, one of which was named the Frazier Street School — built in 1897. It originally contained four classrooms, provided eight grades of schooling, and in 1901, 17 students were enrolled.
From then on, the expansion of public education continued into the Hays era. Come the 1920s, it was time for a new school.
“For some time, the Board had mulled over the request of parents in this developing section north of campus for an elementary building on property that had been available since 1923. On the east side of North Atherton Street, Adam Krumrine donated a triangular tract ‘for school purposes,’ following the example of his father, John C. Krumrine, who years earlier had giving land for the one-room Krumrine Schoolhouse in Ferguson Township,” Hays wrote.
The State College Heights school design was approved in 1930 to be built on the “triangular tract” Adam Krumrine donated. Hays was merely a supervising principle at the time, but said in his book that he advocated for smaller class sizes and the popular fad of “white blackboards”. The low bid for the project was from a contractor named William Kennedy for $14,935.00. In 1931 the 14,000 square-foot building was erected and after construction, the total cost came to $18,031.00. From that point until its closing the school helped facilitate the education of State College residents. It was closed and sold to the U.S. Post Office in 1955 for $200,000 as the new State College post office.
Now, it sits closed.
The school board has entered into talks with Penn State to sell the building for $400,000. Penn State plans on using the State College Heights building for University Press offices but that development is still far away, as renovations to the almost century old building will have to be completed beforehand.
The history of the State College education system is vast and includes a lot of what current residents and students see in their everyday lives, but after a century of public schooling in the area, it can be difficult to see through the renovations to the history behind it. If you’re intrigued, you can find more information here.