Luzerne schools and Luzerne’s history began almost together. The pioneer residents no sooner built themselves homes and established working places than they began building schools. The Island School House, the first school in Luzerne, was built in 1818 and razed in 1924 after standing for 106 years. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the Luzerne High School History and more trivia.
It was a one-room schoolhouse located on Main Street where Luzerne Motors once stood. Its first teacher was Ester Dean. She had fifteen pupils. Charles Hosbranch, another teacher, taught in the winter of 1839 for $15 a month and board.
Now back to the early high school days. In the beginning, there was no school system and no school tax, but communities established their own schools, each paying his “rate” according to the number of children he had in school; the teacher “boarding round,” i.e., from house to house. The Luzerne High School offered a three-year general course until 1918 when the State Department of Education recognized it as a first-class high school.
A brick school was erected on Academy Street (circa 1880) and an addition was made in 1910. This building was razed in 1916. The Bennett Street High School was built in 1903 and burned in 1974. The last graduating class of Luzerne High School was the Class of 1966.
The Charles Street Grade School, an eight-room wooden building, was built in 1896. In 1925, a four-room building was added to the Charles Street School. This building and demolished in 1980. In 1967, Luzerne Schools merged with the surrounding towns to form Wyoming Valley West. Today, LCCC, Luzerne County Community College, is one of the leading educational institutions.
Luzern High started in the early 1900s. The school as Luzerne ended in 1966. The state decided that bigger was better and told schools they needed to consolidate or the would lose state funding. We, along with the following towns, combined to form Wyoming Valley West School District.
Those towns were Luzerne, Swoyersville, Forty Fort, Kingston, Pringle, Courtdale, Edwardsville, Larksville, and Plymouth. That took in 9 towns and 7 schools. They formed what was know at that time as the Monster. The Charles Street School lasted a few years and was then closed. The High School served as either the 7th or 8th-grade building, I don’t remember which.
In 1974 it caught fire and burned to the ground. It was then hauled away and shortly after Charles street was torn down. The Political Fathers of the town at that time who could not see beyond the end of their nose took this prime piece of property on Bennet Street and built the Borough Garage on it which it still is today.
The property of the Charles Street School sometime later was used by a better thinking group of people and they put in a very nice park for the town. You no longer have a school to come home to but it was just a building. A lot of things are gone but we can look back at that time with pride and the town invites you back. Luzerne County is a true outdoor sports activities paradise. Year-round, you can find the most attractive outdoor activities for the entire family!