The Bellefonte area is rich in history. The political, industrial, and educational arenas have always been important in the development of the town. The geological formations beneath the town have played a key role in its development. By the 1790's, a rich supply of iron ore, hardwood forests, ample water power, and limestone formations were used in in iron production. The "Big Spring" which produces over eleven million gallons of water daily, has been important to the locating and naming of the town. Bellefonte, meaning "beautiful fountain" in French, still relies on the spring for all its water needs. Though the iron industry declined in the mid 1800's, the limestone industry has continued on and today remains a staple of the local economy. The surrounding mines produce one of the highest grades of limestone in the world.
Centre County was created in 1800, and Bellefonte became its county-seat. It was incorporated as a borough in 1806. During the first 60 years, Bellefonte grew in population, and above all, political involvement. The claim "home of seven governors" is an example of its political influence. Gentlemen from Bellefonte also held cabinet posts and other influential assignments for Presidents.
Public education was of great importance to the founders of Bellefonte. In 1800, they set aside lands to support an academy or public school. The Bellefonte Academy was incorporated in 1805 and continued as a prominent educational feature through the 1930's. "The Bellefonte Academy has educated more governors, more senators, more judges, and more public men ... than any other school in Pennsylvania," (The Philadelphia North American, 1909). The schools in Bellefonte joined with the schools of the surrounding townships in 1953, forming the Bellefonte Area School District. The Bellefonte schools continue to carry on the tradition of excellence in education that was initiated by the founders nearly two centuries ago.
P r i d e • T r a d i t i o n • E x c e l l e n c e