1899 Smethport School Again Destroyed by FIRE!
Is Smethport DOOMED?

photo credits:  RC Gleason Collection

Timeline of Smethport Schools


First Smethport School



First Smethport Academy



Second Smethport Academy



New Brick School



Second Brick School



Additions put on the 1900 School



New High School built across town on Brennan Hill



The Family Medical Center, located in the area of the old school



McKean County Miner
August 24, 1899
Is Smethport Doomed?
Another $25,000 Fire Wednesday Morning

                     A bad blow to Smethport - the fire well under way when alarm was given - inadequate water supply renders the firemen helpless.

       Wednesday morning at about 3:45 o'clock William Glavin, who resides on Green Street just above the school building, was awakened by the cracking of glass and upon looking out discovered that our beautiful school building was in flames. 

       He quickly gave the alarm and Waterman Peter Bronk sounded the fire alarm which quickly brought the hose company to the scene, but it was beyond human power to subdue the flames as the water force was as weak as ever.  Fire burst out in places as though a battering ram was behind, forcing the destructive element to its utmost.  Everyone present stood amazed as the force of the flames, and in about an hour it was burned to the ground, and all the contents destroyed. 

       Large crowds quickly gathered on the scene, every countenance clearly showing the sadness of heart over the destruction of the magnificent building, school books fixtures, and the library presented by Hon. B.D. Hamlin, valued at $1,100. 

       The whole loss will figure over the $25,000 mark, and insurance is $16,800-$14,000 on the building, $2,000 on the furniture, and $800 on the library. 

       No one was able to form an opinion as to the cause of the fire until it was discovered that the screen to the window at the northwest corner of the basement had been removed to permit entrance.  Different parties saw some men on the school house lawn after 9 o'clock Tuesday night who seemed to be under the influence of liquor and were trying to hide their identity by lying face downward in the grass.  One resident told them to get up and leave as they had no business there at this time of night.  They neither answered or made a move until the man left.  Then they got up and made a pretense of departing, but it is supposed that these men made the school building their resting place for the night and, in their inaudlin condition, either through accident or design, set the structure on fire.  When Z.D. Gifford, the janitor, came and unlocked the front door, he found the glass broken and this evidently is where they made their escape. 

       Later we were informed that at about 2 o'clock a gentleman who is stopping in town saw a man walk to the rear of the school house where he remained a few minutes and then departed.  There is evidently a fire bug in town, and if discovered he should receive the full force of the law. 

In 1874 a school building was erected on the present site at a cost of $8,000 and in 1888 the increased population necessitated the erection of a wing on the east side at a cost of $2,000.  The building was totally destroyed by fire on Tuesday morning, Jan. 31,1893.  In April of the same year a contract was awarded to W.D. Moor of Olean to erect a more modern structure.

       The building was 87 feet long, and the front 60 feet wide.  From the basement to top of spire 96 feet.  On the ground floor were the primary and grammar school departments, two rooms for each department and each room being 24 x 32 feet with a 14 foot ceiling.  On the second floor were the high school department, composed of the assembly room 42 x 46 feet with a 17 foot ceiling, two recitation rooms each 22 x 32 feet and the principal's office, and the library previously mentioned.  It was heated by the Smead system and lighted by natural gas.  The seats we're single and each had a lock.  An upright piano was among the improvements in furniture. 

Its doors were first thrown open for school purposes on Monday, Dec. 4, 1893, and most of the time since a successful school has been conducted.  I.L. Twilley was the first principal, followed by Prof. Fell in the 1894-5 term and Prof. Kirkland in 1895-6.  Then came W.P. Eckels, who for three successive terms has conducted a school that was the pride of the entire district, and he was to have opened the school Sept. 4.  But alas our hopes are laid in ashes, and it will be difficult to provide rooms suitable for school purposes.  Last year there were 270 pupils in attendance and there will be a large increase the coming term. 

Go back to the 1895 building of the school.