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Fissel’s School, Glen Rock, PA

fissel's

Fissel’s School

Fissel’s Church Road and Country Club Road

Glen Rock, PA 17327

Fissel’s School is located at the intersection of Fissel’s Church Road and Country Club Road, in Shrewsbury Township, York County, Pennsylvania.   Fissel’s School is one of York County’s most prominent one-room school houses. It’s been restored, and its modest size is contrasted against nearby modern schools. The Glen Rock, PA, Historic Preservation Society wrote about the school, saying that today, Fissel’s School stands as a monument to our system of education. Its location offers an excellent contrast to the past and present, for it stands just a short distance away from Susquehannock High School, Southern Middle, and Southern Elementary School.  Fissel’s school, built in 1896, stands in the shadows now, a proud relic of the past. For more than half a century students learned their three R’s in the present Fissel’s eight grade, one room school. It is estimated that at least 1,500 boys and girls attended classes at Fissel’s.  Actually, the history of Fissel’s Schools goes back past the year 1896. While the present building was just in its 117th year in 2013, the story begins in the year 1830, when a Marylander, Michael Klinfelter Seitz, purchased 240 acres of land in the area of Shrewsbury Township around where Fissel’s School is located.  Mr. Seitz was the father of several children of school age and it was his greatest desire that they have an education. Nearby neighbors wanted the same for their own children. Mr. Seitz felt that only by full community action and cooperation would their dreams be realized. So he called a meeting of his neighbors at his home and presented the matter of their children’s education to them.

Among those attending the meeting were the Kerchners, Zieglers, Naces, Warners, Wherleys, Klinefelters, Gantzs, Sweitzers, Deckers, Hunts, Cockers, and others. Mr. Seitz was chosen chairman of the committee to develop the idea for establishment of a school. He later served as manager of the school and was its treasurer charged with collecting the money to operate it.  At first two rooms on the first floor of the sexton’s house (still standing) were rented and each member of the group who had children in attendance was assessed dues to meet the expenses. The rooms were equipped with the bare necessities, all hand made. Mr. Seitz and several friends in the carpentry trade made the desks, recitation bench and coat racks. A pot-bellied stove was purchased along with teaching materials and texts.  However, in spite of its modest beginning, Fissel’s School began to grow. Due to the increase in the number of students attending classes (they were even asking for permission to send children out from the Glen Rock area) it was decided to build a school. Mr. Seitz donated a plot of land across the road from Fissel’s Church and Fissel’s School number two came into being in the 1880’s. A few years later a one-room school was built at the village of Seitzland and the Glen Rock area students transferred there. At that time Fissel’s School enrollment was 65 pupils in all classes.  Progress was being made in the expansion of the school’s curriculum. Spelling, geography, history and grammar were added to the three R’s. The school term was expanded from five to six months and a library, which included two luxury items of the day, a Webster’s Dictionary and a set of encyclopedias, was started.  The third and last Fissel’s School built in 1896 was closed finally in the very early 1950’s when the Southern Joint School District went into operation. No longer was the Little Red School House at Fissel’s needed. No longer would the bell atop the picturesque institution ring out across the country-side in anticipation of eager youngsters coming from nearby farms and villages in quest of knowledge.

It is, however, to the great credit of the people of Southern York County that the school system was modernized when the needs of the whole community became apparent following World War II. It was with great foresight that Michael Seitz started and continued as the guiding light of the first two local schools at Fissel’s. And following in his footsteps, the people who took over after he was gone made progress in education their watchword right up to the closing of Fissel’s School.  The closing of the dozens of Little Red School Houses in the Southern District did not pass without the shedding of tears of remembrance.  Fissel’s School is a 1 1/2-story, brick building with Queen Anne stylistic elements. It measures 28 feet, 6 inches, wide and 30 feet, 4 inches, deep with a 22 foot wide, 7 foot deep entrance portico. It has a gable roof with decorative bargeboard and fishscale shingles. Atop the roof above the entrance is a belfry. It ceased use as a school about 1946.  It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.

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