The Fort Lawn Community Center began life as the local school in the 1890’s and was called the “little red schoolhouse” by local families. The two story school building burned in 1915 and again in 1940. Ever persistent, the Fort Lawn community built the main structure that stands today in 1941. The Class of 1953 was the last class to graduate from the Fort Lawn High School; however, grades one through eight remained at Fort Lawn until 1965. The Chester County School District made many attempts to close the school but were always met with local opposition.
The school continued to serve grades one through five until the early 1990’s when the Chester County School District closed the school. This closure left a void in the community life of Fort Lawn as the school served as a focal point for community activities since its opening in 1915.
In the 1990’s, seven individuals from the Fort Lawn Community began meeting to discuss the use of the building. These individuals organized into the Fort Lawn Community Center Executive Committee which worked for two years to research possibilities for the renovation and use of the building. This Committee was composed of local church members and citizens interested in the restoration of the buildings.
The Fort Lawn Community Center officially incorporated in 1998 and received its 501(c) 3 non-profit status from the IRS in 2003. The Board of Directors began a successful fundraising campaign to secure funding for the renovation and restoration of the former school. Funding was secured from the J. Marion Sims Foundation, Springs Close Foundation, Springs Industries, Lancaster Telephone Company, Founders Federal Credit Union, Springs Memorial Hospital and Morris Textile Machinery. Additional funds were raised through membership drives, fruit and flower sales and individual contributions.
The Grand Opening of the Fort Lawn Community Center was held on July 2001 to the joy of the citizens of Fort Lawn. Since that time the Center has expanded community services to include an Adult Education Program, Computer Training, Workforce Development Program, Senior Meal Program, Arts & Cultural Series, Health & Wellness Program, Annual Spring and Fall Festivals and many recreational classes and activities.
Before and After Renovations
Fort Lawn’s 9/11 Memorial
Fort Lawn Community Center is the home of a 9/11 Memorial that rests in front of the Center. The beam is one of the actual pieces that came out of the rubble of the World Trade Center. Local sculptor Bob Doster turned it into a beautiful piece of art that now stands in front of the center. Please come by and share your thoughts and prayers as you gaze on this beautiful piece.
On the left is Fort Lawn resident Richard Hulse, a Fort Lawn Community Center Board member and retired NY Firefighter. Right of the Sculpture is renowned artist Bob Doster of Lancaster.