Schenley High School

Coordinates: 40°27′01″N 79°57′16″W / 40.45028°N 79.95444°W / 40.45028; -79.95444
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Schenley High School
4101 Bigelow Blvd,
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213

Coordinates40°27′01″N 79°57′16″W / 40.45028°N 79.95444°W / 40.45028; -79.95444
TypePublic, Magnet school, International Baccalaureate
MottoEnter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve
EstablishedOctober 2, 1916
ClosedAugust 2008 (building), June 12, 2011 (final graduating class)
School districtPittsburgh Public Schools
Color(s)Red, Black, and White
WebsiteSchenley High School
Schenley High School
LocationBigelow Blvd. and Centre Ave., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
ArchitectEdward Stotz
Part ofSchenley Farms Historic District (ID83002213)
MPSPittsburgh Public Schools TR
NRHP reference No.86002706[1]
Significant dates
Added to NRHPSeptember 30, 1986
Designated CPJuly 22, 1983[1]
Designated PHLF1992[2]

Schenley High School, located in the North Oakland neighborhood at the edge of the Hill District in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is a historic building opened in 1916 that was a part of the Pittsburgh Public Schools. The Schenley High School building was closed in June 2008 in a 5–4 vote by the school district due to issues with asbestos. Its staff and students were relocated the following year. The Schenley name was retired and its last class graduated in 2011. On February 28, 2013 the Pittsburgh School Board approved the sale of Schenley High School to the PMC Property Group of Philadelphia in a 5–4 vote.[3]

The Schenley building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP Reference #86002706).[1] and the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation Register. It is also a contributing property in the Schenley Farms Historic District.[3]


Schenley High School was named for Pittsburgh philanthropist Mary Schenley, on whose land the school was built. It was designed by Edward Stotz as a triangle with rounded corners[4] and constructed of Indiana limestone, the best of its kind. Schenley was the first high school in the United States to cost more than one million dollars to build.[5] When Schenley opened in 1916, there were 1800 students and 70 teachers. Through public donation a Skinner Pipe Organ was donated to the school, the organ remained in the auditorium until the closing of the school. The school published "The Triangle," a monthly student newspaper founded in 1919 and named for the building's original shape. The school's highest enrollment was 3012 in March 1940. Schenley sports teams won many city and state championships, including several state basketball titles in the 1970s. In 1983, the school was rededicated as the Schenley High School Teacher Center, an innovative program in which all of the district's teachers would cycle through Schenley to update methods. The program would be deemed successful enough to warrant a visit from then United States Secretary of Education William Bennet. In 1987, a new wing was added to the building.[3]

Relocation and Closure[edit]

In June 2008, due to severe maintenance problems, school district Superintendent Mark Roosevelt proposed to close Schenley High School to avoid an extremely high renovation bill. This led to public opposition by students and historical organizations that felt the building was worth saving. After months of debate the school board voted 5-4 to close the school following the 2007-2008 school year. The staff and students were moved to the Reizenstein Middle School building, which had been closed a few years earlier. Freshmen, sophomores and juniors who were enrolled in Schenley at the time of its closure were allowed to graduate as Schenley students. Schenley's final class graduated on June 12, 2011. For future classes, Schenley was renamed to Obama Academy, and the Reizenstein building became a shared space for the two Schools from 2009-2011. Obama Academy, which found a permanent home in the former Peabody high school building beginning in the 2012-2013 school year, preserved much of Schenley's teaching staff throughout the transition, as well as the IB academic curriculum and award-winning musical theater program. Protests to save the original Schenley High building ultimately failed on February 27, 2013 when the Pittsburgh Public Schools board voted to 5-4 to sell the building to a developer who would convert the former school into luxury apartments.[3]

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl[edit]

The Summer of 2014 saw the Schenley High School building play a starring role in the film Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. The film, based on the 2013 book written by Schenley graduate Jesse Andrews, tells the tale of a Schenley senior who is dealing with coming of age while facing the possibility of losing a sick classmate. For the movie scenes were filmed throughout Schenley High School, including the auditorium and cafeteria. The school colors in the film, however, were changed from red and black to blue and gold. The film premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, where it broke records. Distributor Fox Searchlight purchased the rights to the film for an estimated 12 million dollars.[6]

Notable alumni[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  2. ^ Historic Landmark Plaques 1968-2009 (PDF). Pittsburgh, PA: Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. 2010. Retrieved 2011-07-28.
  3. ^ a b c d Chute, Eleanor (2013-02-28). "Schenley High School building in Oakland sold to developer - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  4. ^ Kidney, Walter C. (1997). Pittsburgh's Landmark Architecture. Pittsburgh, PA: Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. p. 368. ISBN 0-916670-18-X.
  5. ^ "Pennsylvania Historic Resource Survey Form: Schenley High School" (PDF). May 1985. Retrieved 2010-06-08.
  6. ^ Sostek, Anya (2015-01-25). "'Me & Earl & the Dying Girl,' made and set in Pittsburgh, premieres today at Sundance Film Festival". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Kalson, Sally (2005-11-10). "Much history will be lost with closing of Schenley". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2006-12-16.
  8. ^ "Derrick Bell". The HistoryMakers Web Site. Retrieved 2006-12-16.
  9. ^ Janis, Robert (2004-11-16). "Interview: Larry Brown". Sports Fan Magazine Web Site. Archived from the original on 2007-09-26. Retrieved 2006-12-16.
  10. ^ "Players :: Darnell Dinkins (Bio)". Cleveland Browns Web Site. Archived from the original on 2006-10-21. Retrieved 2006-12-19.
  11. ^ "Art Hyatt". Peach Basket Society. Blogspot. October 2015. Retrieved March 26, 2016.
  12. ^ Vancheri, Barbara (July 27, 1992). "Bill Nunn". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. 19. Archived from the original on June 30, 2012. Retrieved 12 March 2010.
  13. ^ "Pittsburghers of the Century". WQED Pittsburgh Web Site. Archived from the original on August 27, 2006. Retrieved 2007-05-06.
  14. ^ Sabatini, Patricia (2012-12-02). "Obituary: Benjamin Tatar / Actor was Jackie Gleason's aide, lived with Ava Gardner Jan. 23, 1930 - Nov. 29, 2012". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2012-12-24.

External links[edit]