History of Smethport Schools

The school history of McKean County begins in September, 1807 when John Keating, the donor of the County Seat, set aside 150 acres for the support of a teacher and subscribed $500 toward a school building.

In 1815, a group of New England families settled along Nunundah (Potato) Creek in Norwich township. This is the origin of the name of the Smethport yearbook, the Nunundah.

In 1827, fifteen families from New Hampshire moved to the area known as East Bradford. They formed a school district under the Act of 1834.

The State Assembly on January 19, 1829 passed a law stating, "There shall be and hereby is established in the town of Smethport in the County of McKean an academy for the education of youth in the useful arts, sciences, and literature by the name and style of The Smethport Academy."

"The sum of two thousand dollars shall be granted in favor of the trustees who after paying the expenses for the erection of such academy shall place the remainder in some productive fund ... provided that this grant shall not be made until the sum of $500, over and above the donation of John Keating, Esq., shall be secured by the payment of positive subscriptions."

Richard Chadwick became the first teacher in Smethport in 1828. He taught school in his own home. In 1834 a "little red school house" was built to hold the school. In the year 1839, the Smethport Academy was established. The block on the north side of West King Street between Franklin and Fulton Streets was denoted to be used for educational purposes only, when Smethport was laid out. The subjects taught were geography, arithmetic, geometry, philosophy, astronomy, grammar, Greek and Latin.

In 1880, the first white frame building was erected and the first graduating class of four members graduated in 1898.

In 1893, a fire destroyed the frame building and a brick building was erected to replace the old building. The building cost $20,000. Mr. George S. Kirkland was the Principal.

Board of Directors

  • Judge Morrison, President
  • E.R. Mayo, Treasurer
  • John Forrest, Secretary
  • L.W. Dunn
  • D.C. Young
  • D.M. Brasted

    In 1898, this building, too was destroyed by fire as shown below.

    In 1900, another brick building was opened under the following Board of Directors:

  • F.D. Gallup, President
  • Mrs. J.N. Forsythe, Secretary
  • G.R. Mayo, Treasurer
  • John Apple
  • Mrs. Emma Gifford

    In 1935 the gymnasium/auditorium addition was built. In 1942, a library, a new cafeteria and two classrooms were completed to make accomodations for the increased enrollment.

    This building was used as the high school until the construction of a new high school in 1962. It no longer stands. Take a virtual tour of the building that was constructed in 1962 at the www.smethporthistory.org website.

    Click here to see pictures of this school being built. Thanks to Brian Bango for these pictures!

    The then-former high school was used as an elementary school until a new elementary school was built in 1987.

    Take a virtual tour of today's high school, elementary school and the athletic fields at the Smethport Area School District website.

    Last but not least, if you think things haven't changed at the current high school, check out the recent renovations!

    Please let others know about the site! I would like to make it as comprehensive as possible.

    Any comments? Suggestions? Questions? Email me at alumni@smethportalumni.com!