Oak School - 1930

Oak School - 1930.

This 1930 photo shows Oak Elementary School, located along Ballinger Street, between Moredale and Goff Streets. The school was built in 1908, replacing an older schoolhouse dating to the early-1890s. The school was in service until 1943.

When Oak Elementary School was built, Whited Street in Overbrook was called Oak Street, and the area heading down the hill towards Saw Mill Run was part of the Oak Hill district. It originally served children from the small town of Reflectorville that stretched from Whited to Edgebrook, and was called the Reflectorville Public School.

The school building, which doubled as a polling place, became part of the Overbrook School District in 1920 when the communities of Reflectorville and Fairhaven joined to form the Borough of Overbrook. The name was changed to Oak Public School.

1940 Map showing Oak School.
1940 Map showing the Oak Hill section of Brookline and Oak School on Ballinger Street.

The school became part of the Pittsburgh Public School system in 1930 when Overbrook Borough was annexed into the city. When Overbrook School, located further south along Saw Mill Run Boulevard, opened in 1934, the student population of Oak Elementary was limited to first through fourth grades.

In 1940, the school board proposed closing the school and transfering the remaining students from the Oak Hill section of Brookline to Overbrook School on Saw Mill Run Boulevard. The parents protested the plan, citing the dangers of their children having to walk along either the narrow trolley right-of-way along Saw Mill Run Creek, or the heavily-trafficked Saw Mill Run Boulevard, to commute to and from school.

Children walking along the trolley tracks to school.
Parents protested a 1940 plan to close Oak Elementary, citing the hazards of the commute to Overbrook School.

The path along the trolley line was narrow, with only two feet seperating trolleys from pedestrians, and the walkway along Saw Mill Run Boulevard was also narrow, with nothing seperating the children from the speeding automobiles. Crossing the Pittsburgh and West Virginia Railroad tracks was also cited as a hazard.

Oak Elementary School remained open for another three years. It was closed permanently in 1943. The property was sold and the old school building razed to make room for the Lorenz Apartments.

Ballinger Street in 2011 at the location
of the old Oak Elementary School.
Ballinger Street in 2011, showing the Lorenz Apartments that currently stand on the location of the Oak Elementary School.

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