Our Society’s Rich History

APOLLO AREA HISTORICAL SOCIETY

Founded 1970                                          

On August 18, 1970, a group of interested citizens met in the conference room of Laird Boarts’ insurance office to discuss and plan a procedure by which the log cabin at the south  end of town could be bought and restored…

After much discussion about a name for a corporated group the name “The Apollo Area Historical Society” would cover any other project of this nature along with the cabin restoration.

Thus began and ended the first minutes of the newly formed Apollo Area Historical Society.  The first officers were (pictured above)  Mr. Farrell Bash, Mrs. Virginia Seevers, Mr. Laird Boarts, and Mr. Howard Fulton.

By the 10th anniversary, our mission was made very clear in our Statement of Purpose:  “To bring together people interested in history and especially those people interested in the history of the Apollo Area; with the major purpose of discovering, collecting, and preserving materials of an historic value to the Apollo Area thus making accessible such materials at times and places for the development of historical interest.” Continue reading

Apollo Area Churches

Religion has played an important part in the life of Apollo’s families through the years with the earliest church, the Presbyterian, meeting before the town of Warren was even laid out.  On June 3, 2018, the Apollo Area Historical Society presented a powerpoint program featuring many churches and their histories.  Here are the pictures of the churches with a bit of their history and current location if the church is still meeting.

Warren/Westminster Presbyterian Church

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1826

The Warren/Westminster Presbyterian Church was a part of the Poke Run Church as early as 1814 with Elders James Guthrie & James Jackson providing services.  Meetings were held in Samuel McKee’s barn.  When lots were laid out in 1816, two lots were donated for a meeting house, school, and cemetery. The stone church was built in 1826.  The Warren Presbyterian Church was renamed Apollo Presbyterian Church in 1848.  In 1878 a red brick & stone building was built about 200 feet from original bldg.  The first pipe organ was installed in this church in 1896 and the first organist for the new pipe

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1878

organ was Miss Bess Jackson, the mother of actor Jimmy Stewart.  She was the organist for about 10 years.  The present day church was built in 1906.  The stones were quarried from the Hilty farm south of Apollo by Mr. T.M. Willard with helpers.  Mr. Willard dressed the stone & laid them up while some present members and others helped by mixing mortar, carrying it and the stone to the builders.  In 1968 a new Education Center was constructed to accommodate Sunday School classes and the administrative offices.  It was known as the Westminster Church at the time of the merger with Calvin United Presbyterian in 1970.  It is now the Apollo United Presbyterian Church.

 

 

Calvin United Presbyterian Church

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1885

The Calvin United Presbyterian Church was organized about 1830.  The first church building was erected in 1868.  It was 32 x 45 feet. There was no cellar excavation.  It was a hewed mortised frame building.  The weatherboarding was put on in a perpendicular position and the seats were homemade.   The next building  was built in 1885 and was about 38’ by 65′ divided into rooms with folding doors between.  In a short time the building was raised, the cellar excavated and a wall built.  This furnished 2 good rooms in the basement. A  parsonage was erected in 1891 and was located diagonally across N. 2nd Street from the church.   The building was extensively remodeled around 1912 with an addition put to the west side, making the building 48’ by 65’.  This included moving the pulpit from the south end of the sanctuary to the west side with a new pipe organ installed.  This plan then gave five separate rooms downstairs.  New seats, new pulpit furniture, and new glass in the windows greatly improved the usefulness and attractiveness of the sanctuary.  The seating capacity was in excess of 400.  In 1953 another building project was undertaken with the addition of 6 new Sabbath School rooms, a pastor’s study, washrooms and a new and enlarged kitchen.  The Picture6 congregation merged with the Westminster Presbyterian Church in 1970 and began meeting in the current UP building as the Apollo United Presbyterian Church.  The building was sold to Sovereign Grace Baptist in 1999, then later became a private residence with a work out center in the basement.

Union Evangelical Lutheran Church

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1861

The Union Evangelical Lutheran Church was organized in March 1859 and shared ministers with the Spring Church and Maysville Lutheran congregations.  The first building was dedicated in 1863. This building was on First Street and cost $1,500.   It was renovated in 1875 and enlarged in 1887 when the tower was added. In 1894 the church basement was excavated for Sunday School classrooms. The pipe organ was installed in 1904.  In 1918 the name was changed to the First United Evangelical Lutheran Church.  A new building was erected on the corner of PA & N. 3rd St. in 1926. The large church facility has served the community for combined worship services & memorial services for fallen heroes including military personnel and Apollo Patrolman Leonard Miller.

First Baptist Church

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1896

The First Baptist Church was founded by William Rodgers of the Rodgers & Burchfield Steel Company.  On Jan. 26, 1868 the first service was held in the borough’s school house.  They met there for five years until moving to a church near the old canal in 1873.  The land & building was donated by the Rodgers & Burchfield Steel Company.  One of the walls of that building collapsed and a new building was erected in 1896 with a tower and Town Clock. After the flood of 1936, there was extensive damage, but  the congregation revamped & rededicated the building in 1937.  In 1974 the congregation bought the Shrine of Sts. Cosmos & Damien on Owens View and sold the building on Railroad Ave. to the Bible Presbyterians.

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Bible Presbyterian Church of Apollo

The Bible Presbyterian Church of Apollo met in the Spring Church Grange Hall on July 9, 1972.  The congregation moved to the former First Baptist Church of Apollo later in 1972.  The first pastor was Rev. Burton Toms, 1974 until 1988.  The clock tower, built in 1896, became one of the most recognizable landmarks of Apollo.  Unfortunately the tower suffered extensive water damage and was torn down in 1984.

Shrine of St. Damien & St. Cosmos

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Now the First Baptist Church of Apollo

The Shrine of St. Damien & St. Cosmos On March 16, 1935, Pete Sabatelli had his first vision from St. Cosmas while lying in a sickbed.  St. Cosmas was accompanied by six little angels.  He set up a chapel in his apartment dedicated to St. Cosmas and St. Damian.  He was told in one vision to open this chapel or shrine to the public.  It was opened on Sunday morning, March 17, 1945 at 8:30 o’clock. In order to carry out the wishes of St. Cosmas,  Pete Sabatelli on Jan. 31, 1946, purchased 2 1/2 acres of land from Ban Owens in Kiski Township on the Apollo-Indiana road (now Rt. 56), overlooking Apollo borough. The shrine, according to his instructions, was to be built in 1948.  The building of the Shrine was started on May 29, 1947 and was completed November 10, 1948. On a hillside facing Route 56 a mile East of Apollo, Pa, there stands for the everlasting Glory of God the most beautiful stone edifice — the House of Prayers — the Shrine to St. Cosmas and St. Damian, which as requested by St. Cosmas was opened to the public on May 29, 1949.

Apollo Assembly of God 

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1970

The Apollo Assembly of God  began meeting in 1939 meeting in a building on N. 8th & Warren Avenue.  In the late 1950’s property was purchased from the Owens estate and construction began on a new building.  In Oct. 1957, the first service was held in the foundation of the building.  On April 27, 1970, a dedication service was held in the building which is located on First Street.

 

First United Church of Christ 

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1893

In June 1892, John Naly, a student from the Theological Seminary in Lancaster, came to Apollo to establish a mission here.  The congregation was organized on June 26 with 24 members.  During the summer of 1893, the property on the corner of Warren Ave. & South Second St. was purchased for $4,000.  The church was dedicated in March, 1894.  In 1922 a new brick parsonage & garage were constructed.  By 1930 the “Little Old Church” was found be in an unsafe condition.  The old church was demolished and the new church construction began in September 1931.  The project was too costly during the depression and only the basement was completed.  In January, 1959, a check was given from an unnamed donor to complete the church with matching funds from the congregation.

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1960

The dedication of the new church building was Oct. 23, 1960.  The dream of a beautiful church became a reality

Jehovah’s Witnesses

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The Jehovah’s Witnesses were started in 1939 and moved to Vandergrift in 1943.  The congregation built a Kingdom Hall in Spring Church in 1970.  The building is now home to Edgewood Winery.

St. James Church

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1886

St. James Church’s first mass was held in 1884 in the Uncapher Bldg. on N. 4th Street.  The Apollo Parish was established in 1885, meeting in the home of James Reynolds, then in the skating rink on Warren Avenue.  A small church was built in Pegtown. (now used as a private residence)  In 1926 masses were held in Gianini Bldg. until 1929 and then in private homes through 1944. The new church was built in 1954 with the school opening in 1955.  The school closed in 1998.

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1954

First United Methodist Church

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1851

By 1830 there were enough Methodists in Apollo to desire a church building.  The exact date when the old log church on Second Street. was built is unknown.  There is a portion of an old bulletin which gives the date as 1838.  This church was one story and of frame construction.  It stood at the rear of the present building and was occupied as a residence for the Sue Rudolph and Schaeffer families. In this old church were about 10 pews with high backs; the rest were long boards underpinned with cross legs.  The high backed pews were auctioned off to the highest bidder. In 1844, the Trustees sold the lot.  In Nov. 1845, a lot was purchased from John & Nancy Speer.  In 1851 a two story brick church was built.  In 1899, the old building was torn down and in 1900 the current church was dedicated.  Andrew Carnegie donating the pipe organ in 1902. This organ  was replaced by a Tellers Organ in 1971.  In 2009 the church moved to a new building in Spring Church & was renamed “New Beginnings United Methodist Church.”  The former building was gifted to New Life Baptist Church.

 

 New Life Baptist Church

Picture28The New Life Baptist Church is in the former United Methodist Building on N. 2nd Street. The congregation began meeting around 1920 in Vandergrift, before moving to a small school house in Parks Township.  In May 2010, they moved to the building on N. Second Street.

Apollo Free Methodist

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2005

The Apollo Free Methodist began meeting in 1895 and rented space in Fiscus Hall.  The Church building on corner of PA and N. 6th Street was erected in 1896.  In 1997 they moved to the former Calvary Bible Church on Rt. 56E.   In 2005, a new sanctuary & fellowship hall was built.  In Sept. 2016 the church celebrated its 120th anniversary as a local church.

 

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2005

 

Calvary Bible Church

The Calvary Bible Church met in 1955  in a private home on N. Pa. Ave. until building a brick building in 1976 on Rt. 56 in Orchard Hills.  The building is now used by the Apollo Free Methodists.

 

Shiloh Community Baptist Church 

 

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1914

The Shiloh Community Baptist Church  began meeting in the Diamond Hall in 1900. The congregation  moved to a chapel on Warren & Eleventh Street in 1903. In 1914 a new brick building was erected on N. Warren Avenue.  The church building has been sold to a business.

 

Evangelical Lutheran Church of Spring Church 

 

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1961

The first available record of the church is dated August 22, 1841, although it is believed that the church actually began in 1839.  Services were held from 1841 to 1871 in the “Union Church” building, located across the field from the present church.  The Union Church was built in late 1840 near a cemetery.  It was called the Union Church because it was used jointly by the Presbyterian, German Reformed, and Lutheran congregations. The building was a small frame structure 45’x 60’. It was a low building, unpainted, with three windows on each side.  TherePicture35 was a bare floor inside and very little light.  The pews were four benches, each 10 feet long, quite uncomfortable, and arranged directly in front of the pulpit.  In 1871, the building was sold to the Presbyterians and the Lutherans  built their own church nearby in Oct. 1871. In 1955 nine acres of ground was purchased and a new building erected.  This building was dedicated on Aug. 29, 1961.

Boiling Springs Presbyterian Church

The Boiling Springs Presbyterian Church was established in 1840 first meeting in

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1982

the home of Charles Means.  The Boiling Springs congregation left in 1871 and built their own church; four pot-bellied stoves, placed throughout the sanctuary, provided the only heat.  A decision was made to enlarge the building. First the basement was dug in 1936 with a furnace installed.  The Sunday School rooms & kitchen were added in 1951. In 1920 a building committee was formed to make plans for a new church building.  In 1982, the new building was completed on Rt. 56 E in Kiski Township.

First (N. Apollo) Church of God

The First (N. Apollo) Church of God began meeting in Cochran’s Mills in the early Picture371900’s, then in the Vandergrift area by the 1920’s. In 1930 they built a wooden tabernacle on Wilson Ave. which was replaced by brick bldg in 1932 and a Christian Ed. unit was added in 1964. A new sanctuary & Christian ed. building was built over the next 6 years (late l970’s) on the corner of M Street and 29th Street. The large property includes an outdoor picnic pavilion, recreation area, and parking lot.  The former sanctuary on Wilson is used for offices and a fellowship hall.

Zion AME Church

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1895

The Zion AME Church was organized in 1895.  The church was located on the grounds of the Apollo Steel Company.

 

 

 

The Apollo Faith Chapel

The Apollo Faith Chapel started in 1945 in the home of Rev. JR Swauger.  As they

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1958

grew, they began to meet on the third floor in former Malta Hall bldg.  They moved to an abandoned school bldg. in N. Apollo.  In 1958  a new church was built on the site of Malta building which burned in 1956,  They became the Apollo Faith Chapel in 1967.  The congregation recently disbanded and the building is currently for sale.

 

 

The Orchard

The Orchard, formerly known as Orchard Hills Christian Fellowship is located on Picture40Kings Road, approximately 2 miles from Apollo.  The church sits on 100+ acre farmland which was gifted to the church by Mr. and Mrs. Frank Shellhammer in the late 1950’s.  The grounds also house the Orchard Hills Christian Academy which has been providing education to the surrounding communities for nearly 40 years.

 Christian Church of North America

 The Christian Church of North America had its beginnings in 1928 when several Italian families began to meet to worship in the home of Mary Sposito.  When the

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1938

congregation became too large, they began to meet in the afternoon at the First Baptist Church of Apollo’s building, then in the Shiloh Baptist Church.  In 1937 through a donation from Pastor Alfredo Casagni, property was purchased on North 3rd Street and the church building was open in March 1938 for services. It’s a private residence today.

 

We hope you enjoyed reading about the churches of Apollo.  If there is any information or pictures you would like to add, please do so in the comments sections.  The Apollo Area Historical Society would love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letters From North Apollo

The Apollo Area Historical Society considers North Apollo a part of our community and in 2017 had a display evoking the “good old days” from that area  These letters were written to August Froncek from Pearl Sowers Wagner in 1967. The letters describe the North Apollo area.  They are transcribed as written.

My Memories of a Section of North Apollo, Part 1

This deals with that part of N. Apollo known as the “Allison Farm”. This farm was purchased from A.V. Kipp by T.H. Allison in January of 1881. The land reached from the, as we then called it, the river road, on the West, up to Whitlinger ground on the East. A lane went through the eastern part of farm, it was known as Allisons Lane. Continue reading

Helds Shop and Save

Daniel Held Sr.,  being the 7th child of Frederick & Susanna Held, married Rose Pearl Riggle at age 27 in May, 1916.  They lived in North Apollo all their lives.  He was a plasterer and had a business.  He started a store in 1936 on 16th Street, North Apollo.  Also he was Post Master of North Apollo.  Dan and Rose had 7 children.  Daniel Jr. and Clair were the two youngest boys.  As his children grew, they had jobs working for their parents. Continue reading

Drake’s Log Cabin

BACKGROUND OF THE CABIN

The Drake Log Cabin was built around 1816 although the earliest deed is dated 1862 when the cabin was sold to Mrs. Sarah Drake for $312.  The cabin was named for Mrs. Drake.

 In 1925 Franklin and Mabel Garris moved into the cabin.  Mr. Garris passed away in 1928. In the 1930 census, 39-year old Mae B. Garris was listed as living at 416R Kiskiminetas Avenue with daughter Thelma Garris, age 13 and son Frank Garris, age 6.    Sometime before 1940, Mae married Ralph Shirey.  He also passed away before 1940 because the 1940 census shows a Martha Shirey, living at 416R, and at this time only her 16-yr-old son Frank is living with her.    So some records call her name Mae or May while others say Martha, typical of census takers of this era.   Mrs. Shirey remained in the cabin until she passed away in 1965.  Her gravestone has her name as Mabel Shirey.  

THE APOLLO AREA HISTORICAL SOCIETY IS FORMED AND WORK BEGINS…

In 1970 the Apollo Area Historical Society was formed in order to buy the cabin from Mrs. Shirey’s daughter Frances & son-in-law, Samuel Wilson.  The cabin needed much work to restore it to its original condition.  The porch was removed since it had been added, possibly by the Shirey family.

As the Apollo Area Historical Society began working, the windows needed replaced. as well as three logs.  The replacement logs came from a barn on Oscar Allshouse’s farm in Kiski Township.

THE CABIN IS DEDICATED

The Drake Log Cabin was dedicated in a ceremony in September 1971 with President Abraham Lincoln in attendance.

OUR BICENTENNIAL OAK TREE

On Arbor Day, April 17, 1976 an oak tree was planted to celebrate our country’s Bicentennial.  The picture on the right is the tree today.  It’s  northeast of the front door of the cabin.

EXPLORING THE EXTERIOR OF THE CABIN

There are many special features of a log cabin.  The photo on the left shows window and the log & chinking construction.  Concrete mortar was used instead of the mud mortar because of durability.  The top right photo is of the springhouse which encloses a concrete cistern.  The springhouse was a source of water as well as refrigeration for the occupants of the cabin.  The lower right shows the waterfall & creek behind the cabin.  The outhouse was located somewhere in this area.

THE INTERIOR OF THE CABIN

Most of the furnishings are not original to the cabin but we attempted to furnish it with pre-Civil War artifacts to keep it true to the time period.

The pot-bellied stove that Mrs. Shirey used for heat and cooking was replaced with a field stone fireplace.  Inside the fireplace is a chimney crane used for heat control during cooking.  Below is the spinning wheel, butter churn, and a small table with a wash basin, pitcher, and grooming supplies.

The bed is rumored to have belonged to Jimmy Stewart’s grandfather, General Samuel Jackson of Civil War fame.  A close-up shows the rope springs and straw filled mattress. The use of rope springs gave rise to the saying, “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite” because a person would sleep better if the rope was pulled tightly.  And with a straw mattress came the danger of bedbugs!  Under the bed can be seen the chamber pot which was useful if one didn’t care to use the outhouse at night.

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This lantern hung by the back door of the cabin in case someone needed to use the outhouse after dark.

The sewing and knitting corner has an old treadle sewing machine as well as yarn that could have come from the spinning wheel.  The bedside table holds an oil lamp and some old books for bedtime reading.

The cabin ceiling is very low.  For scale reference, Christine, the young lady in the picture below, is 5’5″ and can easily reach the rafters.

Note the wide planks of the floor.  There are several handmade rag rugs scattered throughout the cabin.Picture30

Picture31This is the back door of the cabin.  We hope you enjoyed your tour of Drake’s Log Cabin.  If you would like to view the cabin in person, please contact the Apollo Area Historical Society at 724-478-2899 or email at apollopahistory@gmail.com.  If you like our website, please consider a donation to the AAHS to keep our history alive! Thanks!   Cick here to donate.

Lackey’s Dairy Queen

Beginnings

Founder of Lackey’s Dairy Queen, Paul Lackey was born in Cranberry Township, when Cranberry Twp was just a dirt road and a few farms. He attended Mars High School and played football. He received a football scholarship, but didn’t use it because he said “I only owned one pair of decent trousers.” In 1938 Paul met and married Beatrice Goetz from West View.  Together they had two daughters Alice and Joyce, and one son Gene. In 1943, gratefully utilizing the talent of several family members they started construction of their home near Saxonburg. Paul worked for Armco Steel as a machinist for nearly 25 years but could never get used to the swing shift work.

Lackeys Dairy Queen

DQ family

The Lackey Family 1954

Paul enjoyed a Dairy Queen treat now and then at a Dairy Queen on Route 8 in Penn Twp.  It was there that they met Al and Helen Riggle who owned and operated it. Al Riggle told Paul to find a location on a good well traveled road, and Al would sell him a Dairy Queen franchise and help him get started. Paul would park along the road at several locations until he found the best site right here along the Kiski River on Route 66 in North Apollo. The property was bought from Mr Bash and was actually a very large hole that needed a lot of fill.  With much work from family and friends, Lackeys Dairy Queen was built and opened in July 1955. About that same time Paul and Bea were blessed with another daughter Dolly.

Change

That very first day in late July 1955 when the store first opened for business, they didn’t have money in the cash drawer to make change. Their first customer was a man who ordered a sundae and needed change. Paul told him to just enjoy it and to drop the money off next time.  As he said, “You can run a business on that. Give something away and it will come back in some way when you need it most.”  Later in the day they borrowed $80 from Bea’s father to put in the cash drawer.

August 3, 1955  The Formal Grand Opening  

 

Through The Years

 

Gene Lackey, working at the store, around 1963 and 1985.

 

Beauty Queen Contest 1958

Customers were able to vote every time they purchased a Dairy Queen item.DQ10

DQ 11

Eating Their Weight In Ice Cream!!

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More Great Pictures!

 

 

Going Bananas!

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Here is Gene with an awesome amount  of Bananas,
ready for a big 2 Day Banana Split Sale!

First Windbag Regatta on the Kiski River, 1971

 

Anything That Floats!

 

1955-1985
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First Place Float in Apollo’s 1985 Moon Landing Parade

 

The Future

The Lackey family has touched many hundreds of Apollo families over the last 62 years. Many kids worked summers to help pay for college or their first car; some even met future husbands or wives. It’s always been the place to go for a cool treat on a warm summer evening.

In January 2015, Matt Spires, an employee of the DQ, was able to buy the business when Gene & Jan Lackey retired.  Matt is now married and has a baby boy.  He is committed to continuing the great reputation that Lackey’s Dairy Queen has enjoyed through the years.

Thank you. Dolly Lackey McCoy, for providing the photos & info for use in this blog.

 

Museum Stirs Up North Apollo Memories

The borough of North Apollo–founded in 1930–is home to many of our childhood memories, from Lackey’s Dairy Queen and Griftlo Park to Pegtown and the Valarena Roller Rink. This year,  we’re delighted to be featuring North Apollo artifacts, maps, and memorabilia in our Apollo Museum.  The display pictured here includes objects on loan from the North Apollo Volunteer Fire Department. Other displays feature the DQ, Griftlo Park, and more.

Got any North Apollo memories? Share them here by leaving a comment. And come visit our museum from 11am to 2pm Wednesdays & Saturdays. We’re located at 317 N 2nd Street, Apollo, PA. 

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Elders Ridge Academy

This is a brochure that was printed in 2003 by the Apollo-Ridge School District documenting the Elders Ridge Academy.

 

 

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Picture7Picture2picture8.png910.png                The dormitory, gymnasium, and Academy building (with bell tower).

 

 

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Donaldson Memorial Building built 1951-54

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STOP.jpg                          ALMA MATER

Where the top of Elders Ridge

Meets the eastern sky,

Proudly stands our Alma Mater

On the hill top high.

Flag we love, blue & white

Floats for aye, E.R.H.S. for thee.

May the sons be true &  loyal  To the memory.