History

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 looked upon as 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 own destiny.” (A History of the George Junior Republic in Pennsylvania by Allene H. Masterson, 1970)

William Reuben George

est. 1909

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 was the result of 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 and 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-year history, George Junior Republic has expanded to include a comprehensive organizational structure.  The operations and business of George Junior Republic are conducted through six corporations, all of which are 501(c)(3) designated charities.

Historical Timeline

1895
Establishment of First Junior Republic

William Rueben 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.

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1907
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.

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1909
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. 

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1912
The 1912 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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1914
Jeremiah Sturgeon Chapel

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

 

The chapel is the only existing building on the GJR campus that has retained its name, location, design, setting, materials, and other aspects of significance from the organization’s conception as George Junior Republic of Western Pennsylvania in 1909.

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1919
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.

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1920
The 19th Amendment

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

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1921
Subtitle Text Here

The Pine Township School District of Mercer County includes the Junior Republic School in its application to the department of public instruction for appropriations.

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1926
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.

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1936
William Reuben George

William Rueben George dies at the age of 69.

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1938
"Boys Only."

The Junior Republic becomes a "boys only" school."

 

1939

 

Difficult Times

 

 

During difficult economic times, there is a major decline in the Republic's program, population, and facilities. With only 13 residents 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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1940
Superintendant Replaced

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

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1944
Lakeside Cottage

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

 

https://warfarehistorynetwork.com/article/donald-r-lobaugh-from-delinquent-to-medal-of-honor-recipient

 
https://warfarehistorynetwork.com/article/donald-r-lobaugh-from-delinquent-to-medal-of-honor-recipient/

 

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

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1949
Administration

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

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1950
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.

 

15 major buildings encompass the grounds of the junior republic.

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1952
Prasse Hall

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

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1958
Memorial Hall

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

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1959
50th Anniversary

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

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1963
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 22nd.

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1967
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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1968
Staff

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

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1969
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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1972
Radio

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

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1974
Plane Crash

William H. Gladden passes in a tragic plane crash on the way to speak with Harrisburg officials about the recently approved Vocational-Technical School that was to open on the GJR in PA campus. 

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1974
Community-Based Group Home

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

1976
Omega House

Omega House is established in Crawford County, Pennsylvania.

 

There are 250 boys at George Junior Republic.

1979
Counselor Parent Model

George Junior Republic begins the implementation of the counselor-parent model.

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1980
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 History. The Barnes school is expanded and remodeled.

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1983
Diagnostic Center

A diagnostic center opens on campus. George Junior High School introduces a computer literacy program.

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1988
GJR Scholarship

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

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