The Danville Academy
By: Lynn Reichen
In 1816, a few years before his death, General William Montgomery donated sixty lots for the purpose of erecting and maintaining an academy. This academy was to be under the supervision of the Mahoning Presbyterian Church with one of the Montgomery descendants a member of the board of trustees as long as the school existed. The lots were west of Mill Street, between Mahoning Street and the River. In 1819 the Danville Academy opened on the corner of West Market and Chestnut Streets, surrounded by a grove of maple trees. The first principal was Rev. J.E. Bradley, one of the publishers of the American Montour Newspaper. He was followed by Joseph Weston, Mr. Marr, Mr. Wynn and John M Kelso.
The following advertisement informed the public that Mr. John B. Patterson, Jr. was engaged as tutor and classes available were Latin & Greek at $5 per quarter, Mathematics at $4 per quarter, Geography, English & Grammar $3½ and Reading, Writing & Arithmetic at 2½ per quarter. The ad was dated November 27, 1829 and signed John C. Boyd, Secretary.
Again in March 1831 the Trustees inserted another advertisement in the Danville Intelligencer with classes in the same subjects, at the same pay scale with the addition of 50¢ for using globes during geography. In 1834 an additional teacher was engaged to teach all branches of English and Classical Education for admission into College. The course included algebra, measurements, surveying and trigonometry. This class also meant all supplies needed to teach these classes were purchased. The trustees were doing their utmost to make and keep the Academy a respectable and permanent institution to merit the confidence and patronage of the Danville Community. The 1834 school year started Sept. 22 with the following trustees: Robert Dunlap, John C. Boyd, William Colt, John Moore, William Hartman, Richard Machin, George Frick, William H. Magill and John Russell. Sometime between 1834 and 1837, J.C. Bryant, a graduate of Amherst College assumed the position of instructor.
In 1837 the first ‘young ladies school’ in Danville opened in the Academy with Miss S.W. Miles of Meldford, Connecticut in charge. The female students were first taught on the second floor of the school but soon both men and women were taught together in one class room. On April 16, 1847 the first public examination was conducted and a display of the knowledge and work of the students was given. In 1850 a, evening writing school opened.
The Danville Academy was growing in both fame and the number of students and considered the best of it’s type of school in Pennsylvania. A new and substantial brick building, based on Georgian Revival style was constructed and on Jan 8 1855, the winter term opened in the new building with Mr. J.E. Bradley in charge assisted by his daughter.
On March 5, 1857, by some unknown means, Prof. Bradley’s desk caught fire and the floor underneath the desk burned. The damaged amounted to $25. The fall term of the same year Mr. J.W. Weston of Newark Delaware was hired to run the school while his wife was hired to give lessons on the piano.
In the 1870s public high schools were beginning to be built and this movement closed the Danville Academy and schools like it.
On October 9, 1897 the Academy was sold for $1800 to Louisa McCoy. It has since been converted into a apartment house and has been used in that capacity since.