Revisiting the Jefferson School

Sometimes, I revisit an old friend and discover something new, such as the long-abandoned Jefferson School in Wheeling, West Virginia. I had not discovered much about the historic structure other than its demolition in 2013.

A few nights ago, I cracked open the Wheeling Daily Intelligencer newspaper archives and queried schools along McColloch Street. I discovered articles from 1896 describing the need for an annex to the Clay School, which led to the construction of the Jefferson School, an eight-room annex dedicated on December 24, 1897.

When the Jefferson School was demolished, no one wrote a eulogy for its 100 years of service, citing its deplorable condition as the only testament to its character. It declined only because of the city’s lack of code enforcement and its owners’ lack of investment. With that, a symbol of good construction and impressive architecture was reduced to an unused grass lot with no historical marker to remark about its past.

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My grandparents lived on 15th Street. Their backyard faced the school McKinley school yard. I never remember anyone going to school there. We were never allowed to play in the school yard. It always seemed rather mysterious to us.

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