In September, 1866, the United States was in the early
stages of reconstruction from the devastation of the
Civil War. In Pennsylvania, the Free School Act of 1834
had provided for a system of state-aided schools;
however, the war and lack of quality teachers had left
these schools in a poor condition.The Normal School
Act of 1857 was passed in Pennsylvania to create a set
of standards and a pool of educated teachers who could
advance the school system. Two years later, Millersville
State Normal School became the first institution to be
recognized by the commonwealth.
Stories of Kutztown University
The Early Years
What is now Kutztown University can be traced back
to the Maxatawny Seminary which opened in September
1864, with a three-story brick building and five acres of
land. At that time, area leaders were looking for an ap-
propriate spot for the normal school which would serve
Berks, Lehigh and Schuylkill Counties.
Among the towns being considered, Hamburg and
Fogelsville were leading the charge. In January 1860,
State Senator Solomon Fogel introduced a bill to create
the Fogelsville Male and Female College which would
serve as the district normal school.The bill was passed
but efforts failed and the plan was eventually abandoned.
It was Berks County School Superintendent John S.
Ermentrout who, while riding from Lyons to Kutztown,
had the idea of bringing the normal school to Max-
atawny.The growth of other schools in the area, such as
the Franklin and Fairview Academies, gave Ermentrout
hope that the new school would be equally as successful.
In 1865, five acres of land were purchased next to
Maxatawny Seminary and a large structure built on the
west side of the seminary building. A smaller three-
story building built to the west of the large structure
formed the original Old Main. On Sept. 15, 1866, the
Keystone State Normal School was recognized by the
commonwealth as the official normal school for the
three-county area and the fourth in Pennsylvania.
Some schools operated previous to these dates
under other names before being recognized by
Pennsylvania’s Normal Schools
1871 West Chester
1889 Slippery Rock
1893 East Stroudsburg
1914 Lock Haven
Left to Right: The original
Old Main consisted of
three sections. The far
left section was the
opened in 1864. The
larger center section and
three-story section to the
far right were built in 1865
to meet the require-
ments to become a state
normal school. Due to
structural concerns, the
entire building was razed
and replaced by 1895.
Male students hit the
books in the 1890s.
Female students enjoy
tea in the residence
section of the original
Old Main in the 1890s.