Early settlers of Centerville recognized that family, school, and church were the places that could enhance the minds of individuals. The citizens of Centerville wanted an institution close to them. On February 1, 1889, Slippery Rock Normal school was created.
Scottish-Irish Immigrants were of the earliest of settlers in Centerville, PA. Centerville was the name before Slippery Rock. They focused on family, the church, and school believing that these three components developed a child to become a worthy member of society. The settlers created a schoolhouse named Kelly School, then spreading out to different farms in the area in 1822 or 1823.
There were many schools created before Slippery Rock University, which were forced to close or was sold. In 1871 Professor Cooper became nervous about establishing a college and offered $5,000 to buy land and construct a building. The plan, however, was abandoned because there was no support from the community. After Professor Cooper, Alfred D. Lee arrived in the Slippery Rock area from Ohio. He bought land and constructed a building near the bank of Wolf Creek. Lee called this school at Hemlock Springs College. Hemlock Springs College failed because Lee lacked the funds to pay back the men who constructed the building.
Until 1887, the townspeople did not discuss the future of an institution for higher education. No one decided on where to build the school either; Harrisville, West Sunbury, Slippery Rock, or another center. The community believed that the school should be established in Slippery Rock. J.T. Bingham, John Reed, and D.W.Bard was the founding voices who took a chance to create an institution. Meeting were held to establish the institution and to be able to finance it as well. The community focused on two finances for the institutions; building fund and maintenance fund. The board only had 34 subscribers, and they requested that pay $5.00 for the next three years. C.W. Bard and H.E. Bard needed more, so they sought out the community for help, and the community did help. The women of Centerville also rose to the occasion to help by conducting an ice-cream parlor business. Where they made desserts, and they drove around in a buggy for miles selling the desserts they created. By February 24, 1888, they had enough funds to conduct the first meeting of Slippery Rock Normal School Association.
The first semester began on March 26, 1889, with 168 students enrolled. Students paid $32.50 per term which included room and board, with steam heat and gas lights. Classes were located in Old Main, and the women students lived in North Hall while the men lived in South Hall. By 1893, Slippery Rock Normal School had 600 students attending. Finally, by 1910, Slippery Rock Normal School adopted a four-year curriculum.