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In 1847

Three men (William Wentz, David Livergood, and Julius Billerback) deeded to the school district a parcel of land which is the location of the present PCA gymnasium.  On this site, Penn Square School was erected.  The original donors specified, however, that the school district must agree to a community hall being erected over the school building.  Because of this provision, the wood frame building housed a school on the first floor and the Penn Square Hall Association, which administered the use of the community hall, on the second floor.  In 1848, a Sunday School that later became the Penn Square Community Church began meeting on the second floor of the building.  

In 1896

A new Penn Square School and Hall was built on the site of the first building.  Julius Billerback again donated a piece of ground for "school purposes."

The new school was to be 40 feet by 60 feet with the school board building on the first floor and the Penn Square Hall Association building on the second floor.  One of several interesting rules for the use of the hall was that the hall could be used free of rent by "any regularly ordained minister of the gospel and/or Evangelical denomination for the preaching of the gospel."

In 1923

The first of several sections of the present building was constructed.  In 1929, six rooms were added behind this structure.  A back wing which housed the junior high school was built in 1936.  The gymnasium/auditorium was added the same year on the site area and five classrooms were added in 1951 with the present complex being completed by the addition of eight rooms of the west wing in 1953.

In 1966

Penn Christian Academy started in Penn Square Community Church on Hillcrest Avenue.  This was the same church that met in the second community hall on this current property until 1936.  From the school's beginning, the Penn Square Community Church provided the organizational structure and rented its educational facilities to the school.  Pastor John Garvin and Educational Director Marie Forsyth Riddle founded the school as Penn Square Christian Day School with 17 nursery school children.  In 1969, kindergarten was added, and, in 1972, the board started the elementary school with grades one to four.  By 1977, founding headmaster Richard G. Johnson entered the scene as grades five and six were added, and the school rented two additional portable classrooms in order to completely house a student body of over 200.  Mr. Johnson's goal was always that the school would be a place to "minister to the whole child."  In 1979, Mr. Johnson and several other faculty members were jogging in the area, and Mary Jane Nelson felt the Lord's leading to fall on her knees and ask God for the 50 W. Germantown Pike property. In the spring of 1980, recognizing that the school had outgrown the church's facilities, Penn Square Community Church gave the school permission to independently reorganize and relocate.

On July 1, 1980

The school was reorganized as Penn Christian Academy, an independent, parent-run, non-denominational Christian School.  On August 29, 1980, the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas approved the agreement of sale of the Penn Square School to Penn Christian Academy.


For nearly 170 years, these grounds have been used for education and, for the bulk of those years, there has been a dedicated commitment to teaching young people the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  For nearly five decades, Penn Christian Academy has educated thousands of children in quality Christian academics and ethics.  The merge of this school and property continues the heritage of faith and education on this site in East Norriton.

Penn Christian Academy continues to provide a non-denominational, Christ-centered education for children ages 3 through grade 8 on an 11.2 acre campus with 55,000 square feet of indoor space where exemplary academics, extra-curricular activities, and Christian values are taught in a peaceful, loving, and kind atmosphere.


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