Prunty Trade School

The McDowell Vocational School is an abandoned vocational school in McDowell County, West Virginia.

The Prunty Trade School 3 opened in the fall of 1950 2 and was designed to give Black students the opportunity to learn electrical and mechanical skills. 1 It offered classes only in welding, drafting, masonry, and auto body repair with outdated tools that had to be shared by an entire class, 5 in sharp contrast to the McDowell County Vocational School for white children that offered 11 different workshop repairs with state-of-the-art equipment. 1

To be admitted to the vocational school full-time, students had to attend a nine-week summer session, being rotated through the various departments, to determine where the student shows the most aptitude at. 1 Students who completed the program often had high-paying jobs with an acceptance rate in the industry of over 90%.

In late December 1965, the County School Board approved a $1.2 million bid by Court Construction Company of Kimball for the construction of a new vocational education facility. 4 The project was financed by a $1 million local bond issue and a $1 million federal Area Redevelopment Administration grant.


Further Reading


  1. Blizzard, William C. “School of the Third Freedom.” Sunday Gazette-Mail, [Charleston], 14 Feb. 1960, p. D-1.
  2. Solins, Smauel and Paul W. Jones. “Vocational Schools.” McDowell County History. Fort Worth, University Supply & Equipment, 1959, p. 89.
  3. Battlo, Jean. “The Roaring Twenties.” Pictorial History of McDowell County. Parsons, McClain, 2003, p. 264.
  4. “McDowell Approves Bid on Vocational School.” Raleigh Register [Beckley], 29 Dec. 1965, p. 2.
  5. Carter, Alice E. “Segregation and Integration in the Appalachian Coalfields: McDowell County Responds to the Brown Decision.” West Virginia History, pp. 78-104.

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