Little Red School House


New Documentary Tells the Story of the Richmond “Little Red” Schoolhouse


A new, locally produced documentary by the Brighton Township Historical Society tells the rich history of the iconic, one-room Richmond “Little Red” Schoolhouse. The 13:35 minute video, entitled “Brighton Township’s Richmond School House: A Story of Restoration,” may be viewed on YouTube at


The documentary celebrates the building as a landmark in an era of American public education when rural townships had their own schools, grades 1 to 8, governed by a board of local citizens. All were taught by a lone teacher who also built warming fires in pot-belly stoves, swept the floors and exacted discipline. There were six such schools in the Township. 


The “Little Red,” located at 245 Park Road, was in operation for 106 years from 1844 to 1950. It served as a symbol of community, resilience and the pursuit of knowledge for a population comprised largely of farmers’ children. 


“Pacer’s fine cinematography created a beautiful and enlightening film,” said Historical Society President Richard Pontillo. “It illustrates the accomplishments of a private and public collaboration which resulted in the school’s continued existence.” 


Said director/producer Jason Bumblis, owner of Pacer Studios, “We love fusing video with local history. This project allowed us to tell a story in a way that resonates with today’s society and to explain why it was important.” 


The documentary also features interviews with Jack Erath, a fifth-grader at Richmond in 1944, whose mother taught there, and Jane Wilson Smyda, whose father helped launch the effort to save and restore the building. 


The video was made possible with funding by the children of former Richmond student Leona Hogan Corbett (1923-2001), a gift made in 2023 to mark the 100th anniversary of her birth. 



Brighton Township Schools, known as District #2, or Richmond School, was part of an original Federal Land Grant to John Strawbridge in July 1786. In 1818, Strawbridge deeded the land to John Nible and his wife Rebecca. In 1844, John and Rebecca Nible deeded the land to Brighton Township School Directors for the sum of $850.00. John Sutherland, John Shane Washington, Phillis William Hunter, Peter Reisinger, and Robert Beacom were the School directors.


Richmond School, located at 245 Park Road in Brighton Township, was used as a school for 106 consecutive years from 1844 to 1950. Eight grades were taught in this one-room building, except for the last couple of years when only fifth and sixth graders were taught there by Mrs. Elizabeth Erath. In 1969, the Brighton Township Supervisors purchased this property for the purpose of having a group restore the school as an historical site. A group of township citizens headed by Ben Wilson formed a committee to renovate and restore the Richmond School. Zella Berron, Matthew Banks and Ulston Morgan were the oldest alumni of the school still living at the time. Their memories were of great value to the restoration group. The restoration project was extensive, with many of the materials being donated by members of the Richmond Little Red School House Group and others.


As word of the restoration spread, furnishings came back from far and near. Some of the original desks came back from as far away as New York State. The large school bell had been taken as a childish prank and had been missing for more than 90 years then a lady passed away in Ohio and in her will she had requested that the bell be returned to the Richmond School where it rightfully belonged, and no questions were to be asked. The bell is now mounted up high over the door.

On September 13, 1970, Richmond School was dedicated as a free museum. Since that day, more than 8,000 visitors have signed the guest book; probably one-third or more of the visitors neglect to sign the book. The school is open for visitors the first weekend of the month during June, July and August.  Saturday hours are from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Sunday hours are 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Group tours by appointment may be made by calling  Rich Pontillo at 724-774-8292.


Note cards with a print of the Richmond Little Red School House are available at the Municipal Building for a donation of $4.00. The print is from a pen-and-ink drawing done by John T. Regney. Post cards with an actual picture of the Richmond School are also available at a cost of 50 cents each. All proceeds go to the upkeep of the building and grounds.


Mail for Richmond School should be sent to:
Brighton Township Historical Society

1300 Brighton Road

Beaver, PA  15009