Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
History Quarterly Digital Archives

Source: April 1983 Volume 21 Number 2, Pages 51–60

Diamond Rock School A Picture Portfolio

Linda McNeil

Page 51

One of the most popular scenes in Tredyffrin Township for artists and painters is undoubtedly the old Diamond Rock School House on Yellow Springs Road. On the following pages is a portfolio of drawings and paintings of the old octagonal school.

Its octagonal or eight-sided shape was adopted to give the maximum space within the building at a minimum expense for the walls.

The school was opened in 1818 as one of the first public schools in southeastern Pennsylvania. While there had been earlier schools, most of them had been denominational schools, built in conjunction with a church or meeting. This was a public school, "free" of any religious affiliation, built by voluntary subscription to provide education for boys and girls regardless of their religious preference or background.

The first schoolmaster was a James Mowe.

The land on which the school is located was donated by George Beaver, jun., who gave a 999-year lease for 20 perches of land "for the purpose of erecting thereon a School house". The building cost $260.93 to construct, thirty-four donors contributing amounts ranging from fifty cents to $32.50.

(Text continued on page 60)

Page 52


Wharton Esherick

The artist Wharton Esherick also used the school building as his studio from around 1915 or 1916 until 1919. He added the roof, a wood floor, and shutters with iron tie-backs.

Born in Philadelphia in 1887, he studied under William Merrit Chase and Cecelia Breaux at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. The woodcut reproduced here was first printed in 1928.

The Wharton Esherick Museum atop Diamond Rock Hill features many of his sculptures. For reservations, please call (215) 644-5822.

Page 53


Linda McNeil

Linda McNeil has been a Chester County resident most of her life. She attended school in the Tredyffrin-Easttown School District, and is currently Media Specialist at Valley Forge Junior High School.

Interested in arts and crafts all her life, she has worked in a variety of media, from acrylics to stained glass and quilting. Recently she has focused on watercolors and pen-and-ink drawings.

This picture is a copy of a limited edition print, available from the artist or at area art galleries.

Page 54


Fletcher MacNeill

Fletcher MacNeill is a member of the well-known Chester County Mac-Neill family of artists and a son of the late Henry T. MacNeill.

He is a graduate of the Philadelphia Museum School of Art, and also studied at the Sorbonne.

This pen-and-ink sketch of the school was included, with drawings by his father, in "Chester County Landmarks" and in "Valley Forge Landmarks", both published by his brother's Stephen Moylan Press located in Exton.

Page 55


Peter Sculthorpe

Peter Sculthorpe was born in Hamilton, Ont. in 1948. His family moved to West Chester when he was 15. He attended Henderson High School, receiving the Daisy Jamieson Award while a student there.

He then attended the Hussian School of Art for two years, and also attended the Philadelphia Academy of Art, In 1970 he had his first show, given by the Chadds Ford Art Gallery. It consisted of 36 pieces, and was a sellout.

His non-painting interests include bicycle riding and gymnastics.

Page 56


Barbara A. Spittler

Barbara Spittler was born in Philadelphia, raised in Penn Wynne, and has spent most her adult life in the Montgomery-Chester County area.

Showing an early interest in painting, her grandmother sent her for private lessons when she was ten. She entered her first professional art show in 1974, winning an award. Her subjects range from Chester County to New England.

This rendition of the Diamond Rock School was done for the 1982Christmas Card for the Retarded Citizens of Chester County.

Page 57


Sally Arniel

Sally Arniel, a resident of Delaware County, was born in Philadelphia. A graduate of the University of Delaware, she has taught art in both elementary and secondary schools. She is now painting and working for an interior design business.

She is an associate member of the American Watercolor Society, and on the jury selection committee for the Delaware County Art League.

This picture of the school was done for the Tricentennial Calendar issued to commemorate Chester County's 3OOth anniversary.

Page 58


Lloyd Hall

Lloyd Hall lives in West Chester. He was born in New Hampshire, but spent thirty years traveling while in the military service.

He has a Master's Degree from West Chester State College, and is now Director of Instructional Materials Services for the Chester County Intermediate Unit.

His art work is included in a number of Chester County publications. This drawing of the Diamond Rock School was designed for use as the logo of the Intermediate Unit.

Page 59


Susan Ciocco

Susan Ciocco, of Paoli, received a degree in art education from the State University of New York at Buffalo. She also studied pottery and art history at the University of Siena in Italy, and at the Tyler School of Art at Temple University.

Her pottery and porcelain have been included in recent shows at the Cooper-Hewlitt in New York, the Philadelphia Craft Show, and also at Craftsmen '78, where one of her porcelains won third prize.

Her work is in private collections in both this country and abroad.

Page 60


These costs, as reported in the Survey of Chester County Architecture by Margaret Beruind Schiffer, included

To Mason work 46.00
To Carpenters Bill 70.00
To Sawyers Bill 10.00
To Wm Scholfield for lime 12.00
To Smith's Bill 3.75
To Pine boards 9.25
To Store Bill 6.03
To hinges & screws 3.96
To Stove 18.00
To Nails 5.60
To Brick 4.00
To Shingles & boards 53.84
To white lead 2.00
To hawling boards 4.50
To hawling 1.50
To bruch, Buckets, tin & lock 1.37 1/2
To Plaisterer's Bill 9.12 1/2

The school house served the community for almost half a century, being used for classes from 1818 until the Spring of 1864. In that year two new public schools, the Walker School and the Salem School, were opened and the pupils transferred to the newer facilities.

From 1864 to 1909 the school house fell into a bad state of disrepair, particularly the roof, although the walls remained sound. In that year a Miss Emma W. Wersler, herself a school teacher and a descendant of one of the original subscribers, and a group of her friends undertook the task of having the old school restored to its original state.

Over the next nine years their efforts were successful. On September 21, 1918, just one hundred years after the school originally opened, the restored building was opened again as a reminder of our early nineteenth century educational heritage and an interest in schooling for everyone.

To maintain the restored school, a group known as the Diamond Rock Old Pupils Association was formed. By acclamation, Miss Wersler was selected as its first president. Its purpose is "To keep forever alive at Diamond Rock, the warmth and spirit that characterized early America at its best, as its people shared together, played together, and learned together - with faith in themselves and an abiding trust in God".


Page last updated: 2013-12-30 at 19:46 EST
Copyright © 2006-2009 Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society. All rights reserved.
Permission is given to make copies for personal use only.
All other uses require written permission of the Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society.