The historic charm of the Boogersburg School (1877-1952) is often missed by those hurrying by. Pausing for a moment in its midst reminds us of a simpler time when children walked to school across open fields, studied side-by-side with siblings, and learned morals and arithmetic with McGuffey Readers.
On May 1, 1877, Moses Thompson, the ironmaster and owner of Centre Furnace, deeded property along what is now Fox Hill Road for the Boogersburg School. The schoolhouse was built that same year. Thompson wanted to ensure an education for the children of his tenant farmers who lived over two miles from the iron village. For the next 75 years, the Boogersburg School served first through eighth grade youth during some very significant times in our nation’s history.
While there are no records to confirm it, strong evidence suggests that James B. Mattern was the builder of the schoolhouse in 1877. To put this timeframe in perspective, when the school was built, the town of State College had about a dozen houses most of which were along what is now College Avenue. Penn State had just been renamed the Pennsylvania State College in 1874 and boasted six buildings: Old Main, the President’s house, two barns, and two faculty cottages. How things have changed!
After World War II, the population of Centre County grew and bussing of rural children to larger schools in town became more prevalent. One-room schoolhouses located in outlying townships downsized in a sense to accommodate only one or two grades per building. Such was the case with Boogersburg, which housed only two grades during its final years of operation (1951-1952).
In 2004, the school was given to the Centre County Historical Society by Society members Bob Struble and Susan Crary. Prior to 2004, the school was closed for many years, then used as an art studio by sculptor Sybil Grucci, until its purchase by the Strubles. The Strubles, winners of a 2003 CCHS Historic Preservation Award, have beautifully restored and furnished the building for use in interpreting school life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
It has become a favorite museum resource for the many local elementary school children who have visited the school to experience a typical late 19th century school day. With the help of our volunteer “school marms”, we welcome hundreds of school children every year. CCHS looks forward to continuing to offer rich educational experiences and opportunities for children (and adults) that the Strubles have so successfully initiated and carried out.
Boogersburg School is open to the public each August for an annual back-to-school Open House. The historic structure is also available for group tours by appointment. If you are interested in scheduling a group tour of the Boogersburg School, or have questions about the programming and volunteer opportunities currently being offered, please contact the CCHS office at (814) 234-4779 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.