The Alderson Academy is a former Baptist-affiliated school in West Virginia. After its merger with Broaddus College in Philippi, the Alderson campus was mothballed. Two other colleges reused the building before the structure was abandoned in the 1990’s.
The Alderson Academy, a private school for young men and women, had its roots by George Alderson, the last surviving trustee of the Alleghany Baptist College at Blue Sulphur Springs.1 One of his two children, Emma Alderson, a former teacher at Alleghany Collegiate Institute, sought to reopen the school. Partnering with the Reverend John C. Killian, then minister of the Greenbrier Baptist Church, the Alderson Baptist Academy opened on September 18, 1901. 1
Classes were first held in the Goode Building which had been acquired from J.G. Alderson for $7,000. 5 Initially built as a school, it included boarding rooms for 50 students and classroom space.
The first year was considered a success and in the following year, scientific courses in botany, geology, chemistry, physics, and zoology were added. 5 Enrollment increased to about 112 students, 5 and the first class graduated in June 1903. 4
A fire gutted the school building on October 31, 1906. 5 The cause of the fire was determined to have been “mice and matches.” Since the building was unfit for habitation, students were taught at the Greenbrier Baptist Church and in a room over L.W. Rowe’s store. Rooms were obtained in two nearby residences for the boarders. Within a few months, the school building was repaired and put back into operation.
During the years of no public high schools, the Alderson institution flourished. 2 Students were able to receive their secondary education. But facing the rise of public high schools that could offer the same education for free, Alderson turned the school over to the West Virginia Baptist General Association in 1911, and it became the Alderson Baptist Academy. 1 5 A gymnasium was added in 1914. 5
In 1916, a proposal was made to construct a new, enlarged brick building. 5 Some discussion was held on whether or not to keep the school in Alderson or relocate it to a larger city such as Beckley as they were offering large tracts of free land. Ultimately, the school stayed put in Alderson. In 1918, after struggling with admissions, it added two-year college-level courses and became the Alderson Baptist Academy Junior College. 1 5
In 1920, the Alex McVeigh Miller home, “The Cedars,” was purchased. 5 The large frame house was used as a boy’s dormitory and then as the president’s residence.
Toward the effort for a new building, fundraisers were held. J. Carey Alderson of Logan donated $80,000, and George W. Jones of Red Star sent over $25,000 towards the effort. 1 In 1924, a new $200,000 2 / $300,000, 5 four-story brick building was completed. 2 It contained classrooms, a library, study hall, and a large auditorium on the first two floors, and living quarters on the upper floors. 5 A steam plant and laundry was located in a rear structure.
By 1930, the college had its peak enrollment of 412 students. 1 Financial difficulty during the Great Depression forced the consolidation of Alderson Junior College with Broaddus College on October 15, 1931.
Broaddus College, founded in Winchester, Virginia as the Winchester Female Institute in 1871 by Edward Jefferson Willis, 1 was renamed the Broaddus Female College in 1875 after the Reverend William Broaddus, a prominent minister during the American Civil War. In response to a downturn in the local economy, the college moved to Clarksburg, West Virginia in 1876.
Management of Broaddus fell under the West Virginia Baptist General Association in 1885, and the name of the school became Broaddus College. 1 It became co-educational in 1888. In 1894, the school was renamed to the Broaddus Classical and Scientific Institute. Financial issues forced the closure of the school for a few years until the debts were paid off. In 1909, the renamed Broaddus College school relocated to Philippi as that town had donated land and a building for a new campus.
Both Alderson Junior College and Broaddus College shared common religious affiliations and missions, and the merger meant that they could share resources and students in the joint campus at Philippi. 1
After the merger, the former Alderson campus was mothballed. 2 Armstrong College, founded by Dr. I.B. Bush of Charleston, operated out of the building from 1932 until it dissolved in 1935. 4 5
A 25-member state committee inspected the building on May 25, 1948, with the goal of using the 50-acre complex as a state vocational camp. It would be used for the state’s Future Farmers of America and Future Homemakers clubs and be patterned after the Four-H camp at Jackson’s Mill. On July 30, the camp committee voted in favor of a site at Elkins. 3
In 1953, the building was purchased for $40,000 by a group of independent Baptists to run the Mountain State Baptist School/Mountain State Christian High School. 4 5 Opened on August 29, 1955, the new school faced immense difficulties: a lack of working capital, accreditation, and awareness, as did its strict rules. While students were prohibited from gambling, drinking, or smoking, which were standard rules at the time, the dis-allowance of watching movies and dancing led to low enrollment.
Mountain State Baptist School operated until the 1980s. The building was then used as rental apartments into the mid-1990s.
- Donnelly, Shirley. “A-B College Becomes Leading Institution.” Beckley Post-Herald 28 May 1965: 4. Print.
- “Alderson College May Be Chosen Site of F.F.A. All-Year Vocational Camp.” Beckley Post-Herald 25 May 1948: 1. Print.
- “A HISTORY OF CEDAR LAKES YOUTH CAMP AND CONFERENCE CENTER RIPLEY, WV.” WV State Department of Education. Web. Article.
- Swope, Kenneth. “Schools.” The History of Alderson, West Virginia. 1 Jan. 2012. Web. 6 Apr. 2015. Article.
- Dixon Jr., Thomas W. “Alderson Baptist Academy and Junior College.” The Rise and Fall of Alderson, West Virginia. Parsons: McClain, 1967. pp. 70-79.
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My grandmother, Ollie Mae Ramsey, worked there in the early to mid 70s in the kitchen. I went and stayed with her sometimes. It is weird seeing these photos as the memories of there are still quite vivid. If anyone happens to have photos of her, please send them to me.
My mom, Cindy Smith, went to school there when it was the Mountain State Baptist High School. She was in the choir and I still have her pics of the students on the beautiful staircase. She would have graduated in the early 70’s.
I lived there in the right wing of third floor with my family for about a year in 1979. The school was down to a dozen or so students (just one or two per grade) with one principal (Mr. Stanley?) and one teacher. it was a scary place of ghosts, old time religion, discipline and no dancing. We played basketball in the basement gym, jumped bikes by the smokestacks in the back, saw water moccasins in the pond and had a revival in one of the lecture halls. Once we had a field trip down to the main street to visit the Wonderland workshop filled with whimsical creations made from junk. With the two-story tall stained glass windows and all the empty rooms – it reminded me of The Omen with Gregory Peck.
[…] by such weather but I found it to be perfect road trip conditions, and I was determined to make the Alderson Academy my first visit of the […]
Oh wow! This building brings back so many memories of my childhood. Summer camp. Bible conferences. Real preachers who loved the Bible. The stairway in the lobby where we kids would run up and down racing. The stain glass window. The canteen where my daddy would buy his kids a Black Cow or a Sugar Daddy. The little pond in the front. My family visited in 2006 and it was bittersweet seeing how run down it had become. (It is possible that we kinda trespassed.) What a beautiful building it was. My dad, Pastor Ernest Parks loved this building and what it stood for. I would love to see it restored.
I have explored the Old Academy many time in my 88 years. My first visit to the inside was as a trespasser! I can remember the Library still had the books on the shelves, the Chemistry Lab. benches had remnant of someone’s experiments of long ago, The seating in the auditorium was in fair condition, it was a very eerie feeling to be alone in the place. Later expeditions showed the ravages of age, In the 70s I was a member of the Alderson City Counsel & accompanied a developer from Tallahassee and an Architech (sp), on a inspection of the property. We very quickly found why the building would never again be used!
The structural members were all wood, Studs, Rafters, Girders, Floors were of wood, Fire and Safety codes would never allow anyone to sleep in the old building!!! Only one of the reasons.
Ir was strange but for years the Stained Glass window on the stairways was inviolate, later the window
was sold to Alderson-Broadus College to replace it’s twin (ruined in a disasterous fire that destroyed the A-B Chapel… Following the removal of THAT window the it seems that vandals declared open season on the building, I am not sure that there is any unbroken windows in the structure. The rains come in from the rotten roof and broken windows and signal the end!
My name is deborah badger. So many memories at this school. These pics are so tragic to me i lived in an apartment in the school where my dad lonnie badger and joyce badger were teachers. So many memories. First stitches when my sisters ran my head into an old fashioned radiator (i lost some of my brain that day) to the leave houses, my pet bat and my pet pig petunia who everyone thought it was a good ideal to eat later. Lol. Biggest mansion i ever lived in.
Yes it was a mansion. I use to go to school there and run around with Lonnie Badger, also went with Lonnie to L.B.C…
Yes it was a mansion. I went with Lonnie to L.B.C…
Hello Debbie I lived at the school in 1975- I believe 1977 I remember your family my dad and mom also taught there I googled it cause was thinking about the times we had there and saw your message and immediately recognized your names lol I’m Joy Davis my two brothers lived there also I’m trying but cannot remember how old you were at the time Would love to hear from you
It is in the city limits of Alderson just above the bank building on route 12 north, not route 2 (11 miles south of exit 161 of I-64 via route 12
I’m Tim and also went to school there in the 70’s. it was indeed a grand building at the time with broad and beautiful oak stair cases that ascended to upper floors. I was on a work scholarship and kept the coal furnace fired! Not fun at 3am when the auger had sheared a pin and you had to get up and go make the repairs-and afterwards being covered in coal and dirt go in to take a bath with no hot water!
The building is filled with asbestos and probably other harmful products. Abatement alone would be above a million dollars! I still live in Alderson and also hate to see my alma mater go the way of all earthly things! Definitely unsafe to enter at this point.
These pictures break my heart. My family and I lived in this building from 1963 to 1965. At that time the building housed Mountain State Christian High School (later Mt. State Baptist High School). My husband was principal, teacher, coach and choir director there. The group who established the school received the building in terrible condition and did a great deal of restoration. From these pictures I would guess the building is in even worse condition now than it was before the restoration. Sad, sad!
Location one mile east of Alderson on Rt. 2 in Greenbrier County.
The building is located one mile east of the city of Alderson on Rt. 2 in Greenbrier County.
What’s the address of this building?
What a shame that a piece of history has to be in shambles. It would be nice if the historical society would try to help restore this building.
I’m just seeing this site as I was looking for photos of Mountain State Baptist High School, which I attended in the mid-1970’s. So it was an operating school well past the 1960’s.
It was last used in the 50’s and 60’s as Mountain State Baptist High School. I thought the original Alderson College was located on the knoll by the parking lot/basketball court across from Old Greenbrier Baptist Church.
Went to high school there. Graduated in 1973. The building was still in very good condition in those days. The last time I was in the building is now approaching three years. It was getting to be very unsafe then. I am not sure that any amount of money could save the building now. Sad to say but it probably needs to come down. Always loved the old place though.
I was born and raised in Alderson and have frequented this place many times as a youngster, use to sneak in and fish in the pond that was there( and may still be), nice large mouth bass. I had a cousin that was the care taker of the property for awhile and he would let us explore this amazing building ( well use to be) it was a grand place once and has now gone the way of the dinosaurs,, to bad,, loved growing up there, no other place I would have chosen
Should have been restored as it copies the White House architecture.
Every time I visit my hometown of Alderson, I think about how I would love to see that building restored. Others in town are on my wish list too, like the old movie theatre. I wrote to Sundance, Robert Redford’s company, asking if they would give a grant. The answer was no.
As a boy growing up in the early/mid 50s it was a rite of passage to go through it when it was unused. It was not nearly so decrepit as the present pictures show. Many a game of hide and seek was played there.
I would love to have this building and be able to save it before it completely falls down. I’m thinking it would take some grants to save it. My wife and I recently moved to a property next to the building and hoped we could purchase it and turn it into a children’s museum and a few offices for local businesses. Along with a self serve garage for the locals in Alderson. However the cost of such a project is not something we can handle after looking at the building. We would love for someone to save it as it is a beautiful building. We love looking at it out our windows and hope that it will always be there.
I live in Alderson WV. I grew up out in Blue Sulphur…it’s beautiful here and the college is in “shambles” unfortunately…it is extremely unsafe to “tour” although at Halloween time, a lot of us folks still go inside just to “scare” ourselves…lol…it’s a shame the place couldn’t b restored and kept as a land mark or as another piece of WV beautiful history.
I worked in Alderson at the Federal prison for 20 years and watched the building deteriorate even further throughout my time there. I figure one reason the building fell to ruin was that it is probably loaded with asbestos, may have lead pipes, and could not be brought up to code without exorbitant expenditure. Also, I figure it had no elevator, ramps, handicap bathrooms, etc. so it would not be able to be approved under the ADA. I believe that many old buildings fall apart because it is so cost prohibitive to bring them up to code, and it costs too much to demolish. Tragic, isn’t it? But at the same time, we cannot use unsafe buildings which can physically harm folks.
What a shame. to let this building get in this kind of shape. Beautiful building. I live in Georgia, but am from West Virginia.
I am a descendant of Alderson family from West Virginia. My forefather was John Alderson “the Elder” (1738-1821) who had a son George. I am researching my heritage and found your sight. I didn’t know it existed…interesting.
Is this building for sale? I’m a student at Alderson Broaddus University right now and I absolutely love this old building and the town.
Yes. Not sure if it’s listed with a realtor. A trip to the courthouse Assessor’s Office would tell you the name and contact info for current owner. Whether or not you acquire the building, do consider moving to Alderson. It’s a wonderful and varied community. People feel connected to each other here.
I am Herb Hatfield. I read your comment about the Alderson school. I have done much research about Elder John Alderson. I would like to communicate with you.
To Tracy in Huston, I knew your mother Barbara who I went to school with and would like to talk. Our names is Stephen and Diane who also went to school with your mother in Alderson, WV.
I am preparing the profile of Alderson Baptist Academy and Junior College to include on my website of lost colleges. This website is noncommercial, financed out of my own pocket. I would like permission to use your image of the Alderson building–the face-on view of the building. I would of course credit you and link to your website.
recently got to go around the grounds of this forgotten building, nice to see the inside. nicer if something could be done/rehabed in it
I have always wanted to see inside this building. I would drive by daily. i love going into abandoned buildings. There are several in ronceverte wv. [ an old movie theater being the main one on my wish list ]
To the pers on below I live in alderson wv I have ben inside this place alot over 5 years ago it was what you would say safe to walk in but last summer I went in it and it’s not safe second floor is falling in first floor the same I didn’t make it to the top of it they really need to Remove this place