Country Day Nursery School, a private preschool for three, four and five year old children, celebrated its 45th anniversary in September of 2017. Country Day was founded by Lois O’Neill Kelly and her late sister Margaret O’Neill McGrath.
The current director is Lois’ daughter, Patrice Bonin. Mrs. Bonin became the director in 1999. She is the certified teacher and has an assistant teacher and two aides.
Country Day operates in the home founded by the Dolph family, early settlers of Moosic Lake and ultimately Dunmore. The home was built in what was originally then Luzerne County. Lackawanna County was formed later. The home is currently occupied by Lois Kelly as well as her daughter and son-in-law, Patrice and Tom Bonin, and their five children. It is much busier than it was 100 years ago.
The Dolph family owned from the 1100 block of Quincy to the 1100 block of Prescott. The main house was located at 1205 Clay Ave. When one of the Dolphs married a Robertson, they built a house on 1204 Quincey Ave. Mr. and Mrs. Robertson had five children.
During World War I it was a meeting place for woman to knit hats and socks for the soldiers. In the 1920s, one of the sons, Charles and his wife Mary Ellen purchased the home and reinvented it.
Mrs. Robertson died in the 30s and Mr. Robertson lived in the home until his sisters, Florence and Anna moved in. Florence Dolph was pictured in the Scranton Times riding down the banister on her 100th birthday.
In 1949, the home on Quincey Ave and several other homes were sold to the Diocese of Scranton. The Diocese then formed Christ the King Parish. Mass was held on the 1100 block of Clay. The diocese then redesigned the home, the rectory and Parish were adjacent. The Church was sadly closed in the early 2000s.
The property and buildings were sold to Paul Woelkers. They updated the rectory and now it is the “Archangel,”, an adult day care. In 1971, Paul and Lois O’Neill Kelly purchased the home and moved from the O’Neill family homestead at 1235 Clay Ave to 1205 Clay Ave.
Country Day Nursery School was founded in 1972. The motto of “A child learns through play and work” stays the same. Classes were originally held Monday through Thursday from 9-11:30 a.m. and an afternoon class from 12:30 to 3 p.m. from September to May. Currently the hours are Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Children are taken outdoors, including the wintertime, in the playground.
The original Country Day Nursery School was located on the entire 1100 block of Quincey and Clay Avenue, along from Poplar Street to the Dolph property. It was a beautiful one-story building with living quarters for the teachers on the second floor. The property was enclosed with an eight-foot fence. The front entrance was, and is, dedicated to a young boy who passed away while attending the school. The original entrance still stands. The Country Day was opened from 1926 to 1939. Growing up, I would watch the cars drive the children to and from school. The most prominent families would send their children.
When the original school closed, the board members were very lenient with letting the neighborhood children play on the playground. Occasionally the public schools would use the auditorium for plays. The building was later bought by Howard Duckstwein and his wife, who made it into the Scranton Garment Factory. This was great for the area and employed many people.
Like most jobs, the garments jobs slowly went overseas. Mr. Duckstein then created the Country Day Apartments. Currently the property is occupied by two buildings.