York countian Howard C. Imhoff drew this scene of York County Academy, circa 1850. “The masters were university graduates well versed in the classics. A number achieved fame as clergymen, educators, publishers, and statesmen. Among the alumni of the York County Academy founded in 1787 have been many of York’s most outstanding men and women,” a caption for the drawing, from the 1957 York Chamber of Commerce book “York, Pennsylvania, A Dynamic Community Forges Ahead.” Also of interest: Striking architecture lined York’s South Duke Street, York USO column attracts WW II-era memories, and The things you learn from reading York County (Pa.) history.
York Academy was a late-18th-century church-connected school in York, succeeded by the York County Academy, a state-chartered school. That school was one of the roots that formed York College of Pennsylvania.
Now comes another York Academy, the York Academy Regional Charter School, featuring the International Baccalaureate curriculum designed to prepare students to function in a global culture.
Organizers of the new York Academy, starting classes in the fall in the renovated Smyser-Royer building, were aware of the old York Academy located across from St. John’s Episcopal Church before its demolition in the 1960s… .
A parking lot took its place, although its former gym, a former USO canteen in World War II, stands today in the east corner of the lot.
So, the new York Academy, located in the Northwest Triangle development area, is only short walk from the site of the old York Academy.
Perhaps the new school will have the same successes in producing generations of achievers, as did its predecessor. City leaders are banking on the charter school – fed by students from partners York City, York Suburban and Central York school districts – as an educational option to the public schools for families living in York. Some families settle in the city until their children reach school age, and then move to suburban districts.
Here’s a short history of the old York Academy, taken from “Never to be Forgotten”:
In 1787, the York Academy grows from a school connected to St. John’s Episcopal Church. The Rev. John Andrews, earlier pastor of St. John’s church, opens the school in the 1770s, and the new academy maintains its affiliation with the church until 1799. It becomes known as York County Academy after it receives a state charter and financial support. The academy entered into a teaching agreement with York Collegiate Institute in 1929, and the combination of schools formed York Junior College in 1941, eventually becoming York College of Pennsylvania in 1968. Academy graduates become county, state and national leaders. Thaddeus Stevens, who taught at the school in 1815-16, went on to fame as a voice for public education and against slavery. Edgar Fahs Smith became a noted student and teacher and, still later, provost of the University of Pennsylvania. (A middle school in the York City School District is named after Smith.) Smith was preceded in his provost’s post by another scholar with academy connections. After leaving the county, John Andrews moved to Philadelphia where he gained a reputation as one of America’s most capable classical scholars and ultimately the provost’s position at Penn. “(H)e shed light and interest upon almost every subject of discussion or conversation.” a student said, “by his general learning, by choice quotations from the ancient classics, or by instructive or amusing anecdotes, of which he had a large store treasured up in his memory.”
Also of interest:
For a timeline of key events in York County’s history, see Never to be Forgotten section of ydr.com.
- All York Town Square posts from the start. (Key word search by using “find” on browser.)