Passtown (“Pass”) Elementary School was built in 1923, as a two-room schoolhouse specifically for “colored” students. This new school replaced the one-room colored schoolhouse across the road that was built in 1914, which was overcrowded due to a growing population of African Americans migrating from the South to work in the steel mill. In the new two-room Pass School, grades 1 through 4 were taught in one room, and grades 5 through 8 were taught in the other room. Generations of families attended Pass School and were taught by the same nurturing teachers, Mr. Cuff, Miss Spann, Miss Washington, Miss Clary who became Mrs. Moore, Mr. Clark, and others.
In 1950 two rooms were added to the building. The rooms had a shared dividing wall that, when opened, allowed for large groups. Among other uses, the large room served as the temporary location (from 1954 to 1955) of the First Baptist Church of Passtown after the original church was destroyed by fire in 1954. In November 1955 the church members marched from the Passtown Elementary School through the streets of Hayti, to the new Passtown Baptist Church for the first Sunday service in the new building.
Passtown school is located in the historic community of Hayti, in Valley Township, in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. The Hayti Historical Society is championing the school preservation effort. The Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), the Chester County Historic Preservation Office, residents of Valley Township and the Hayti community are great supporters of the Passtown School preservation project, as well as many local and regional leaders and historical organizations. The State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) has deemed the former Passtown School building eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The township has provided a letter stating that the township does not object to listing the school on the National Register of Historic Places.
Passtown School was integrated in 1957, three years after the 1954 Supreme Court decision in Brown vs the Board of Education. During its magnificent lifetime, the Passtown School building has housed a segregated elementary school, an integrated elementary school, a Head Start location, a polling location, a civic meeting place, a community center, and, for over 30 years, the Valley Township Municipal offices. The township has moved its offices to a new building. The community has expressed its desire and will present its Proposal to repurpose the Passtown School building as a Community Center and Museum.
Passtown Elementary School is the only remaining school building from the era of segregation that is still standing in the Coatesville area and beyond. The building embodies the history of segregation, the history of the Hayti Community, and the history of a segregated way of life in a northern state in America. All other physical vestiges of segregation in this area are gone and mostly forgotten. The movie theater where “Negroes” sat in the balcony is gone (the Auditorium). The movie theatre where “coloreds” sat in the back is gone (the Palace). The old YMCA that was for whites only is gone. James Adams School which was the school where most black students attended in the 9th grade, and the white school where white students attended in the 9th grade, are both gone. The hybrid segregated school system was strategically designed so that both races went to their respective schools to establish and solidify race-based friendships before attending the integrated high school for grades 10 through 12. The high school classes were integrated, however there was no mixing of the races on a social level. Every student knew his place.
The only school standing representative of that historical era is Passtown Elementary School. Without it, the history of the era of segregation in a northern town will be erased and forgotten.
HAYTI HISTORICAL SOCIETY MISSION
The mission of the Hayti Historical Society (HHS), located in Hayti, Valley Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania, includes, but is not limited to:
(1) conducting historical research;
(2) preserving and disseminating information relating to:
- the history of Hayti in particular, and history in general;
- the material, social and spiritual culture of Hayti;
- the geographical and socio-economic development of Hayti;
- the preservation of the Hayti community; and
(3) sponsoring uplifting and informative social and civic activities and services for the Hayti community.
HAYTI HISTORICAL SOCIETY VISION
We envision HHS to be a thriving and influential resource for the study, preservation and advancement of historical knowledge of Hayti and an advocate for its importance.
PASSTOWN SCHOOL BUILDING PROJECT
The mission of the Passtown School Building Project, under the umbrella organization of the Hayti Historical Society (HHS), located in Hayti, Valley Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania, includes, but is not limited to:
⦁ Preserving the history and heritage of the Passtown elementary school building in Valley Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania;
⦁ Repairing, rehabilitating, and preserving the Passtown school building;
⦁ Re-purposing the building as a historic and community building that would preserve the history of the school and the history of the black community in Chester County;
⦁ Providing a community center for historical and other purposes, to actively involve the community in Valley Township;
⦁ Preserving the important history of this northern community during the era of segregation;
⦁ Fostering education of all students in the area as to the history of the black community in Valley Township.