HISTORY OF EDUCATION IN PASCO COUNTY
Port Richey School
This article was last revised on May 5, 2013.
According to Frances Clark Mallett, James W. Clark built the first school in his grove in 1886.
Hernando County school board minutes from Sept. 6, 1886, show that a school was authorized for Port Richey with trustees A. M. Richey, H. W. House, and M. N. Hill.
A 1945 article by Mrs. W. E. Randall in the New Port Richey Press has:
The first school house was in the Clark Grove and was a log cabin and the teacher of that school, Miss Murphy, later entered a convent and became a nun. The next school building was built in the site of the cemetery. Then came the school close to the Clark home, the present building now occupied by the Community church in Port Richey. Later the school was closed and the children then went to New Port Richey to school.
However, Frances Clark Mallett says that her father showed her the first school, which still existed in 1948, and that it was not made of logs but of unpainted lumber. It was on Pinehill Road. She said it was too small even to have a heater inside.
In 1887, school board records showed that the trustees for the Port Richey school were J. W. Clark, M. N. Hill, and A. M. Richey. Minutes of Nov. 7, 1887, show Port Richey School #88 with one teacher, a total of 20 students, and an average attendance of 16 students
School board minutes of March 5, 1888, have: “The petition of Mr. A. M. Richey, trustee of School No. 26, asking for aid in building a school house, and proffering a deed to one acre of land was presented. The Supt. was requested to investigate this matter, and report at next regular meeting.”
School board minutes of May 7, 1888, have: “The deed from the Cootie Land Company for two and one half acres of land, upon which is located the Port Richey School house No. 26, was also accepted and ordered recorded.”
On June 4, 1888, the board received a petition asking for $50 as aid in erecting a school house in Port Richey.
School board minutes of July 2, 1888, have: “The application from the trustees of Port Richey School asking for aid for building purposes was again presented and was allowed, but the Supt. was instructed to withhold the warrant until December next.”
Minutes of Aug. 8, 1889, show J. W. Clark as the supervisor of school no. 26.
Minutes from July 1892 show the trustees for the Port Richey School, dist. 21, were M. N. Hill, Nicholas Premier, and Jas. W. Clark.
School board minutes of Sept. 4, 1893, Aug. 2, 1897, Aug. 1, 1898, and July 1901 show Edward B. Liles assigned to be the teacher.
School board minutes of Dec. 1896 have: “On motion Port Richey School was discontinued until an average of eight pupils could be made.”
According to West Pasco’s Heritage, a school was built in the Pine Hill section, on land donated by James W. Clark, in 1899. Rev. Jesse Mitchell recalled that the first school in Port Richey was near the Pine Hill Cemetery. In a 1978 newspaper interview, Marie Lyles tipping said that the first school in the area was built in 1899 at the Highlands on Congress Street by her grandfather Clark but was much too small to accommodate the children by 1910.
On Aug. 24, 1899, the San Antonio Herald reported, “Mr. Ed Liles, lately teacher of the Port Richie school, has transferred the field of his labors to Ehren.”
On Dec. 21, 1899, the San Antonio Herald reported, “Miss Katie Semmes, the efficient teacher of the Port Ritchie school, is home for the holiday vacation.”
School board minutes of July 3, 1905, indicate that the schoolhouse in Port Richey was sold to H. R. Nicks for ten dollars.
According to the historic marker placed on the old Port Richey Community Church, the church and school was constructed in Port Richey by H. R. Nicks in 1906, although this information may not be accurate.
On Aug. 2, 1909, school board minutes have: “I. W. Hudson came before the board asking that they be granted a school at Port Richey for this term, and pay for windows and doors for said school. On motion, request was granted.”
An article in the St. Petersburg Times on April 13, 1985, reported that the Port Richey Community Church would celebrate its 75th anniversary on Sunday. The article reported that the grounds were deeded to David Hope and Nannie Yulee in 1876 by President Grant, and that later the property was owned by H. R. Nicks. According to the article, it was deeded as a school to the Pasco Board of Public Instruction in 1910 and deeded back to the church by the board in 1919. The article reported that church services were begun in 1910.
In July 1910, school board minutes have: “Bob Nix presented a petition from citizens of Port Richey for a school and house (?). As W. S. Larkins would be in that neighborhood in a few days, and while there would look the situation over, and act in the premises (?), if it was necessary to establish a school there, like unto the course advised in the Cootie school.”
School board minutes of Aug. 1, 1910, show that the school board approved a request to build a school in Port Richey on land donated by H. R. Nicks. The school was to be 24 by 36 feet with eight windows and one door. A warranty deed shows Nicks conveyed property in T25, R16, S32 to the School Board for one dollar on Sept. 29, 1910.
School board minutes from February 1911 show Winnie Lawton teaching at school no. 27. Winnie L. Stubblefield (1889-1940) recalled in 1923 that she taught in Port Richey 12 years earlier.
A Jan. 7, 1913, newspaper article indicates that Miss Mary Govreau was the teacher in Port Richey. [She was from San Antonio. She became Mary E. Hancock in 1916.]
School board minutes of June 16, 1913, show Marie Liles was the teacher.
A 1914 register of students shows has a difficult-to-read teacher’s name which could be T. J. Turner.
On Aug. 13, 1914, the Tampa Morning Tribune reported, “Qualified voters in Port Richey will go to Elfers Saturday, August 29, where a special election will be held for the purpose of voting upon the proposition of bonding District No. 33 of Pasco County for $10,000 to be used for the erection of school buildings in Port Richey and Elfers, Anclote and Seven Springs, and repairing and painting the Clark and Old Port Richey school buildings.” The school building in Port Richey would be built on Main Street in what would become New Port Richey. The article seems to imply that there were two schools in Port Richey at this time.
A newspaper article on Nov. 11, 1915, identifies Miss Florence Marrish as being in charge of the Port Richey school.
The school board minutes of May 1 and 13, 1916, as reported in a newspaper, have: “As per advertisement, bids for new building at Port Richey were opened at one thirty p.m. Isaac Cripe was found to have the lowest bid being an amount of $2250. Mr. Moran was appointed inspector of said building.”
A directory shows that in 1915-1916 the teacher was Mrs. M. L. Liles.
In a 1978 newspaper interview, Mrs. Marie Lyles Tipping recalled that she taught in the Port Richey school in 1916. “The salary as I remember was $45 or $50 a month and I had around 35 students. I lived with my grandparents and taught my young cousin, Mary Clark.”
School board minutes of April 3-4, 1916, report that the board agreed to advertise for bids on the Old Port Richey Building, to be opened the first Monday in May 1916. School board minutes of Sept. 16, 1916, show that Sophie Elslander was appointed to be the teacher. School board minutes of April 5-6, 1920, reported that the Board appointed Miss Corinne Jordan to teach at the Port Richey school, succeeding Mrs. Sheldon, although apparently she did not actually become a teacher because the school was apparently closed at the end of the 1919-20 school year. School board minutes of March 7, 1921, report that the school site in New Port Richey known as Nicks grove site was sold to H. E. Northrup for $1000.
Grace Clark Rossi attended the school as a 6-year-old first grader in 1918. She recalled in a 1995 interview being one of 22 girls at the school, which taught boys and girls from the first through the sixth grades. Mary Woodruff, quoted in a 1978 newspaper article, said, “I attended the Port Richey Rural School on Grandfather Nix’s land from 1912 until 1918. Three of my teachers were Jenny Edwards, Carl Cripe, and my cousin, Marie Lyles [Tipping]. Grandfather Clark’s home was about two blocks from school. The school was heated with wood, burned in an iron stove at the front of the oblong room. The wooden building was unpainted and two children sat at one desk.”
Students in the 1918-19 year were: Betty Bailey, Mildred Remling, Lorena Head, Viola Ericson, Ruby Head, Annie Head, Daisy Ericson, Ione Hill, Margaret Albritton, Wilmer Albritton, Esther Kamemen, Helga Wesa, Mary Sapp, Isalline Sapp, Hattie Sapp, Selma Stevenson, Gertrude Stevenson, Annie Beijar, Gracie Clark, Corinne Clark, Ina Malmstrom, and Mary Clark.
A 1978 newspaper article quotes Jenny Edwards (now Crane) as saying that she taught grades one through eight at the Port Richey School from 1918 to 1920 but that in the second year the fifth through eighth graders were transferred to the green, two-story building which stood where City Hall was later located.
On July 29, 1920, the New Port Richey Press reported in its Port Richey news column, “The deeds of the school property have been made out to the M. E. church.” The land and the building were sold to the Snyder Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church for $1,000. Apparently the building ceased to be used as a school at the end of the 1919-1920 school year. In 1940 the church was renamed the Port Richey Community Church. On Aug. 30, 2005, the building was demolished.