est. 1909

From 1890-1895, jewelry case maker and social visionary William R. George first developed the concept of a fresh start program for delinquent and abandoned children through his exposure to the “fresh air camps” movement, which gave tough boys and girls from the New York City slums a summer country living experience.
George observed that while the fresh air camps were a good idea on paper, they did not improve the attitudes and behavior of these young petty criminals. He came to believe “that all boys and girls would derive inestimable benefit from spending a few years in a village-type setting in which the government was conducted by themselves, and where the conditions — economic, civic, and social — were the same as an ordinary village. His chief interest was to develop the character of young people.
He theorized that when a citizen had property earned by himself, he would want laws to protect it … Property was considered the basis of responsible citizenship, available to those with industry and initiative, qualities to be learned in a free enterprise and competitive economy. Each boy and girl was put into conditions of actual life and allowed to work out his destiny.” (A History of the George Junior Republic in Pennsylvania by Allene H. Masterson, 1970)

William R. George

In other words, youth would be taught the principles of self-government, self-control, and responsible behavior by giving them the power and duties of citizenship in a miniature state. George called these life-changing institutions “junior republics.”
The creation of George Junior Republic of Western Pennsylvania resulted from the serendipitous coming together of two groups of men on a mission.
In March 1907, George was visiting the Thatcher School in Ojai, CA, where he met Dr. Morgan Barnes, a teacher at the school. The two men had an opportunity to discuss the junior republic movement. Barnes, a Mercer County native, became an enthusiastic believer in George’s work and recommended that George consider Grove City as a location for his next republic. 
Over the past 110 years, George Junior Republic has expanded to include a comprehensive organizational structure. The organization’s operations and business are conducted through six corporations, all of which are 501(c)(3) designated charities.

Historical Timeline

Establishment of First Junior Republic

William Reuben George establishes the first Junior Republic in Freeville, New York, an outgrowth of his "fresh air camp" project for boys and girls from the slums of New York City.

Address of Area Youth & Deliquency

Three Allegheny County attorneys, R.T. McCready, Samuel Black, and Leonard Levin, join together to address the plight of area youth and delinquency.


After hearing about Mr. George's interest in establishing another republic, Dr. Morgan Barnes recommends Grove City as a possible site.


A native of Mercer County and a teacher at the Thatcher school in Ojai, California, Dr. Barnes maintains an active interest in the Republic for more than 50 years.

The Western PA Republic is Established

The Junior Republic of Western Pennsylvania is established as a settlement where young people are taught the principles of self-government by giving them the powers and duties of citizenship in a miniature state.


With the assistance of the Grove City community and surrounding areas, $6,000 is raised to purchase the John McKain Farm. The association officially approves the Junior Republic of Western Pennsylvania.


On December 3, William R. George delivers his inaugural speech in Grove City.


In 1910, the cost of keeping a boy or girl at the Republic is estimated at $20 per month. During the first spring, staff and residents cultivate 80 acres of land, plot a 60-acre apple orchard and plant a large garden. Farm produce plays an important role in the Republic's economy for many years. 

Pioneer Cottage Fire

On February 22, a fire destroys Pioneer Cottage. Displaced by the fire, 26 boys live in tents until November when a new cottage, White Horse Inn, opens.

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Jeremiah Sturgeon Chapel

The historic chapel is located at the entrance to the campus on West Main Street Extension Road. The building is one of the first structures erected on GJR campus, dating back to 1914.

Tasse Domestic Science House

The Tasse Domestic Science House is dedicated to the girls of the Junior Republic. A teacher and two girls live in the home. Tasse House also serves as a classroom and laboratory for teaching the female citizens how to establish themselves in a home.

The 19th Amendment

The United States Congress approves the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote.

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The Pine Township School District of Mercer County includes the Junior Republic School in its application to the Department of Public Instruction for Appropriations.

Private Charities for Youth in Demand

In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, there are only two state institutions, four-county facilities, and 14 private charities for youth. The Republic Program is in great demand.

William Reuben George

William Reuben George dies at the age of 69.

Although he died in 1936, the family maintained its involvement with the Republic through the activities of George's daughters and their husbands.

Boys Only

The Junior Republic becomes a boys only school.

Difficult Times

During difficult economic times, there is a major decline in the Republic's program, population, and facilities. With only 13 citizens on campus, Earle Bruner resigns. The current staff consists of the superintendent, secretary, two house parents, a farm manager, and a farm helper.

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Superintendant Replaced

Arthur T. Prasse is named as the new superintendent. He arrives in January to find no coal, heat, food, and dishes to eat on.


By April, the Board of Directors and affairs of the Republic are completely reorganized. There are 10 major buildings on Republic grounds that need to be replaced or renovated. Many improvements are made during the next decade.

Lakeside Cottage

Private Donald Lobaugh is killed in action under fire in New Guinea on July 23.


A former citizen of the junior republic, he is posthumously awarded the medal of honor.

In 1948, the republic dedicates the Donald Lobaugh Memorial Auditorium-Gymnasium.




Over 200 former republic citizens give their lives for their country during WWII. 

Desperate to be the kid i was never allowed to be - 5
Lakeside Cottage

The Republic purchases the Scott Black farm and converts it into a residence named Lakeside Cottage.

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The Morgan Barnes School and administration building opens. There are now 196 youth on campus.

Desperate to be the kid i was never allowed to be
Private John Benton

Private John Benton, a former Republic citizen, is killed in the action during the Korean conflict.


The Junior Republic is his "next of kin." General MacArthur sends personal condolences to Superintendent Prasse.


Fifteen major buildings encompass the grounds of the Junior Republic.

Prasse Hall

Prasse Hall is dedicated in honor of former superintendent Arthur T. Prasse.

Memorial Hall

Memorial Hall is dedicated to the memory of Republic citizens who died in service to their country.

50th Anniversary

Pennsylvania George Junior Republic celebrates its 50th anniversary. There are 268 boys in residence and 62 full-time staff members.

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Barnes Hall

Barnes Hall is dedicated in honor of Dr. Morgan Barnes as he completes 54 years of service to the Republic.


President John F. Kennedy is assassinated on November 22.

Barnes Hall
New Administration Building

A new administration building opens, made possible by a grant from the Eden Hall Farms Foundation. The facility is named in memory of Sebastian Mueller, a former executive of the H.J. Heinz Company.

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The Republic now employs 136 full-time staff and 50 part-time staff.

William Gladden Retires

William D. "Pappy" Gladden retires after 19 years as superintendent. His son, William H. Gladden, is named the new superintendent.


George Junior Republic Association of Western Pennsylvania is now officially George Junior Republic in Pennsylvania, with 349 boys in residence.

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A student-operated radio station, WEXR (AM 600), begins broadcasting on campus.

Plane Crash

William H. Gladden is tragically killed in a plane crash on the way to speak with Harrisburg officials about the recently approved Vocational-Technical School that was to open on campus. 

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Community-Based Group Home

George Junior Republic opens its first community-based group home off campus, Zeta House, in Grove City.

Omega House

Omega House is established in Crawford County, Pennsylvania.


There are 250 boys at George Junior Republic.

Counselor Parent Model

George Junior Republic begins implementing the counselor-parent model.

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New Recreation Center

Pennsylvania Governor Richard Thornburgh dedicates the new recreation center. At a cost of $1.2 million, the facility is the largest building project in George Junior Republic organizational History. The Barnes School is expanded and remodeled.

Diagnostic Center

A diagnostic center opens on campus.


The Diagnostic program provides a 45-90 day comprehensive evaluation within a staff-secure, self-contained environment.


A multidisciplinary approach is used to complete psychiatric, psychological, behavioral, substance abuse, and educational assessments. The Diagnostic program is highly structured and utilizes reinforcement schedules to assist youth in readjusting their behaviors.

Pennsylvania Incorporation

In 1986 George Junior Republic in Pennsylvania and George Junior Republic Reality are officially incorporated. 

Scholarship Program Established

The George Junior Republic Scholarship Fund is established to provide graduates with financial assistance for higher education.

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In 1992, GJR in Indiana and GJR Preventative Aftercare are incorporated as two of the three affiliates. 

Ropes Course

Funded by Richard King Melon, the Adventure Based Counseling Facility featuring an indoor rope and adventure course, opens.


It is the largest facility of its type in Pennsylvania.

Interested in funding a facility? Donate below
Preventative Aftercare

An eight-bed, community-based group home George Junior Republic in Indiana opens in Columbus, Indiana.

Inside Indiana Group Home
A Look at the Pub

On March 23, 1994, a news article titled A Look at the Pub Inside and Out is published detailing community misconceptions of GJR. 

Resource Center

The Resource Center is completed, providing much-needed space for large group presentations, staff development and training, and counseling services.

Resource Center

A new infirmary is built on campus.

Crisis Intervention

The new Crisis Intervention Unit, a 17,200 square foot facility, is constructed. 

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Multimedia Technology Learning Center

On September 4, the Multimedia Technology Learning Center and library open at Memorial Hall. 

First Annual Empty Bowls

Grace United Methodist Church hosts the first annual Empty Bowls fundraiser benefiting the Grove City Community Food Pantry. GJR youth created each clay bowl by hand. 

Maurice B. Cohill, JR. Academic Center

The construction of the new academic center has completed. On June 17, 2011. 

Robotics Competition

GJR youth compete in a local robotics competition sponsored by Grove City businesses. 

Robobot Competition 2014 (43)
Arts Leadership & Service Award

GJR receives the Arts Leadership & Service Award, from Erie Arts & Culture, recognizing GJR for outstanding leadership and service in the arts.

2017 Governor - all GJR partners
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