Penns Grove School

The first school in Penns Grove was simply called Penns Grove School.  A one half acre of land owned by Joseph Guest
was conveyed to six trustees in 1841.  A one room wooden school house was erected on the northwest corner of Broad
and Harmony Streets. In 1871 a new school was built here named Harmony School.  It is not clear if the original one-room
structure was torn down at that time or at a later date.

                                     Harmony Street School – Union High School

The town outgrew its tiny one room school and in 1871 added a 4-room structure called Harmony Street School, also called
the Wooden School or Gray School by many. An 1876 manuscript of Salem Schools by William Reed says “the building is a
model of the class needed in districts similar in size.”  It was located on the north side of West Harmony Street and North
Broad Street.  The belfry was on the original section of the school. There were renovations in 1896, 1900 and again in
1906.  The 1896 renovation added two rooms and another two rooms were added about 1900.  William A. Summerill states
that “In 1906 a four-room unit was erected and made room for the development of the high school on the State’s approved
course of study which provided proper knowledge for the scholar to enter higher education institutions.  Thirty-seven
hundredths of an acre of land was added to the ground in 1906, by purchase from Samuel and David G. Simpkins.”  This
high school was called Union High School.  When the new Broad Street High School opened in 1915 Harmony Street
School became a grammar school.  In 1916 the inspector of buildings described this school as being in miserable
condition, being very old and stated it had outworn its usefulness.  The staircases were described as dangerous and a fire
hazard.  It was recommended that the building be abandoned.  Instead, in 1917 fire escapes were added. In a letter dated
May 1917 r to the Board of Education from the Principal Merritt Jenkins, he discusses the overcrowding at Harmony Street
School.  He expresses the need for 25 classrooms when they had only 20 and gives a recommendation for 4 classrooms to
be added in outside buildings.  A 1918 news article titled “School in Garage Stirs Penns Grove Parents” discusses a
garage located opposite the new high school building and rented at $840 per year for the previous two years.  It was
thought that the new high school opened in 1915 would be large enough to take care of the increase in pupils for a number
of years when it opened.  “Then along came the powder boom and the new school was overcrowded the first year.”  A new
school was to be built in Carneys Point that summer (Lafayette School), but the powder village was growing so fast that two
such schools would be needed there. There are 1914 and 1915 invoices from The First Baptist Church for use of the
church for school children.  In 1915-17 there is information regarding the rental of space at Homan's Garage.  In 1922
there is an invoice for $600 from Green's Garage for one years rent for a building used as a school and a two-year lease
for the second floor of Poland’s Building. In 1930 there were twelve teachers and twelve classes for grades 1-8 at Harmony
Street School as follows:  two for 1st grade, one each for 2nd and 3rd grade, two for 4th grade, one each for 5th and 6th
grades, and two each for 7th and 8th grades.  In 1936 there were 262 students, six teachers for grades 1-5, with two
classes for 1st grade and one class each for 2nd through 5th grades.  Harmony Street School remained open until 1952
when the new Maple Avenue School (Paul W. Carleton School) opened.  The school was demolished in 1953.


        Penns Grove High School - Broad Street School

In April 23, 1913 a news article states Penns Grove voted down a proposed bond issue of $30,000 for the erection of a
new high school because the one-acre site was considered too small for 600 school children.  William A. Summerill, a
former member of the board of education lead the fight for the larger site.  The high school had to be erected that year
because the grace period to supply a better school facility expired at the end of the school term.  The school board
meeting minutes note that on June 17, 1913, land was purchased from F.G. Sparks’ for $1,000. It is unknown if this
purchase was for the new school or another purpose or if the original site was used. They would lease the firehouse again
in 1913 for school room space.  The new school would be built in the spring of 1914.  The board considered a six-room
school of lumber, but later chose one of brick.  In May 1913 they approved the lowest bid $16,375 of Walter Titus of
Paulsboro.  The new school was dedicated on December 24, 1914 and opened January 4, 1915.  The new school was
called Pennsgrove High School and was located directly across from the Harmony Street School.  It had nine classrooms
and an auditorium of 250 seats.  In a 1917 letter to the Board of Education, Principal Merritt Jenkins states “the entering
class may have 56 from our 8th grade, 30 from the Village School. U.P.N. and 10 or 12 from Oldmans.  This mean a net
increase of about 75 pupils.  We cannot accommodate this number under our present arrangements.  I suggest that
provisions be made for additional recitation rooms in the basement and that a small steam heating plant be put in to heat
these rooms.” There is also discussion of overcrowding at Harmony Street School and the need for some classrooms in
outside buildings.  A 1918 news article states “along came the powder boom and the new high school was overcrowded the
first year.”  In 1930 there were 329 high school students and thirteen teachers, an increase of two teachers over 1929.  
The Pennsgrove High School housed students in ninth through twelfth grades until 1935 when the new Regional High
School opened on Maple Avenue.  At that time, Penns Grove High School on Broad Street became a grammar school and
became known as Broad Street School.  In 1936 there were 371 elementary students enrolled in the school for grades 5-8
and nine teachers.  There was one first grade class, three 6th and 7th grade classes and two 8th grade classes.  
The school remained open until the 1980’s when it closed for good.  The school was demolished in 2002.

                                                             Poland Building

In 1922 the school board leased from Meyer D. Poland “the large room, on the second story, on the northerly side, in the
new building at the corner of Broad and Main Streets…” for two years for a sum of $750 with an option to extend for three
years.  A suitable entrance to the room and heat was to be furnished by Mr. Poland.  The school board would provide
furnishings, toilets at the rear of the building and would be “liable for any accidents happing to its scholars”.   It is not
known if the lease was extended beyond two years.

                                              Barber Avenue School for Colored

In June 1925 voters approved the purchase of a lot on Barber Avenue between Main and Harmony Streets for a new
school to accommodate black children in Penns Grove.  The school was built with Works Projects Administration Funds.    
In May of 1929 the school board meetings minutes state “school house for negro children discussed.”  In July all board
members were ready to go ahead with the school. There was no further mention of the completion of the school in the
board minutes.  The school, called Barber Avenue School for Colored was a one level frame structure with four
classrooms. In 1930 there were 4 teachers with two grades per teacher from 1st through 8th grade.   In 1936 there were
189 students and 4 teachers for grades 1-8 as follows:  Teacher Isabell Cuff taught 35 students in first grade, Marion
White taught 52 students in 2nd and 3rd grade, Dora Smith taught 56 students in 4th and 5th grades and Ella Weakley the
Principal taught 56 students in 6th, 7th and 8th grades.  Students went from 8th grade to Regional High School in 1936.  
The black students attended Barber Avenue School until it was ruled in 1954 that such facilities were unconstitutional.

                                                      West Harmony School

The school board meeting minutes on August 4, 1927 mention land and a home next to the school purchased for school
purposes for $1100 from Jacob Hunt.  It is unknown if this was for West Harmony Street School or not.  In any event, West
Harmony Street was built in 1927. It was a six classroom, stucco structure about three blocks to the west of Harmony Street
School that had 240 white students originally for grades 1-4. In 1930 there were 6 teachers with one class for each grade 1-
6.   In 1936 there were 241 students and six teachers for grades 1-5.  Each grade had one class with the exception of 4th
grade which had two classes.  The school was still open in 1969 and at some point, became offices for the Regional School
District.  It is unknown when the school closed, but it was demolished in 2002.  


             Penns Grove Regional High School – Penns Grove Middle School

Applications were filed with the Public Works Administration for funds for a new high school. The new high school was built
and opened in 1935 at a cost of under $300,000.  Since this high school would serve more than Penns Grove it was called
Regional High School.  This school was considered state of the art, with twenty-three rooms, a gymnasium, library and 750
seat auditorium.  In 1936 there were 689 students and 21 teachers.  After much discussion a wing was added to the school
in 1957-59.  At the same time three classrooms were reconstructed to provide a new library, making the old library into
office space and guidance facilities.  Two classrooms were converted into a home economics suite, plus a new physics and
chemistry lab all at a cost of $580,000.  Crowded conditions forced the high school to stagger session until the additions
and alterations were complete. Plans for a new high school began in 1965.  This project was finally approved and in 1971 a
new high school was opened on Harding Highway. When the new high school opened on Harding Highway the original high
school on Maple Avenue became Penns Grove Middle School.  It currently serves 6th,7th and 8th grades. In 2016
enrollment was 462 students with 46 teachers. This is the lowest since 2009 when enrollment was 492.

                                                Maple Avenue/Carleton School

By 1948 schools were so overcrowded the Board had to rent space from the Union Presbyterian Church for the
kindergarten.  A special planning commission recommended a school northeast of Penns Grove for grades K-6, another K-
6 school southwest of Carneys Point, an addition to Pershing School and abandonment of Green School within five years.  
Funds were approved to build the elementary school in Penns Grove.  Land was purchased from the Lutheran Church on
East Maple Avenue and the $750,000 Maple Avenue School was built and opened in 1952.  The school was renamed Paul
W. Carleton School in 1956 in memory of his thirty-one years of service to the educations systems of Penns Grove and
Upper Penns Neck. The school currently serves 4th and 5th grades.  In 2016, 313 students were enrolled with 24