Gary Grade and District High School - Abandoned

Gary Grade and District High School

The Gary Negro Grade School and the Gary District High School is located in Gary, West Virginia.

For clarification purposes, the Gary Consolidated School (Adkins District School) and Gary High School was originally for white children, while the Gary Negro Grade School and the Gary District High School were for black children.

The Gary District High School, which was for Negro students, was constructed as a six-room wood-framed structure in 1913 3 along Red Cross Street. Referred to then as the Gary Consolidated School, it offered elementary and junior high education. In 1922, the school was renamed to the Gary Negro High School, offering classes to grades 7 through 12.

On May 2, 1923, the United States Coal Commission released a report on Gary, giving the coal camp community a rating of 85 out of 100, one of the highest for any company-operated town in the United States.1 In the report, it noted that there were separate grade and high schools for white and Negro children. The white grade school was the larger of the two, featuring eight rooms in a wood framed structure, with water fountains, furnace heat and flush toilets. The Negro school had four rooms, wood framed, and had water fountains and furnace heat with an outside vault privy.

In 1925, the Gary Negro High School burned and a new brick structure was constructed.3 The new two-story school featured ten classrooms, a library and gymnasium 2 3 and was completed at a cost of $36,000. But within two years, Gary’s Negro schools faced an enrollment of 437, which was only increasing.4 Due to overcrowding, a new elementary school was completed adjacent to the high school in 1927/1928.6 The growth did not slow, though, and by September 1938, enrollment had increased to 650 pupils.5 In 1954, the Gary Negro grade school had an enrollment of 208 students, while the Gary District High School had 508 students.1

Students during this era either walked to school or took a bus offered by the Black Diamond Transportation Company.4 White and Negro students used separate buses.

At the beginning of the fall term in 1954, students were given the option of remaining at Gary District High, or transferring to another school, such as Gary High. The majority of the students chose to remain at Gary District High, and the agreement remained in place until September 1965 when falling enrollment meant that all of the high school students were transferred to Gary High.5 6 The high school was converted into an elementary school until the entire complex was closed in 1975.



  1. A correction: I was a member of the last class of sixth graders to graduate from this school before it was closed. That was in 1981. I remember 1976 vividly because I was in the first grade during the Bicentennial Celebration and we had a dress up celebration week..

    Love the pictures. I recently visited the site with my teen son but did not go inside.

Submit a comment