A building at the long-closed Frenchburg Presbyterian School burned to the ground around 1:30 PM on Saturday, April 15.
Several years ago, I embarked on a winding trip through the Winding Gulf coalfield of West Virginia, to explore and discover the history of this once-bustling part of the nation. The Winding Gulf coalfield rapidly developed in the early 20th century with the advent of deep underground mines that required thousands of miners—and their families.
Susan Orlean, of the New Yorker, once said that living in a rural region exposes the body and mind to marvelous things: the natural world, the “particular texture” of small-town life and the “exhilarating experience” of open space. It’s not difficult to argue that. Hazel Green Academy was located in a remote small town in the hills of eastern Kentucky. The private school,…
St. John Berchmans Catholic Church and Servite Catholic High School is located on the east side of Detroit, Michigan and operated as a combination church and school. It’s first iteration, as St. John Berchmans Catholic Church and elementary school and Servite Catholic high school, lasted until 1986. It reopened in 1996 as the Colin Powell Academy, a charter school, that lasted until 2010.
Fairview School is located in Cincinnati, Ohio and was constructed from 1888 to 1890 in the Romanesque Revival architectural style. A three-story addition, designed by local architect Edward J. Schulte, was built in 1957-58. The addition was meant to be expanded once the original structure was razed, but declining enrollment led to those plans never coming to light.
Linwood Public School is located in the Linwood neighborhood of Cincinnati, Ohio and was constructed in 1929. The tan bricked, two-story school was designed in the Romanesque Revival architectural style by Fecheimer & Ilhorst. The school later became known as the Linwood Fundamental Academy and closed in June 2005 after a new East End school was completed. It was briefly used as a refugee shelter for those left homeless by Hurricane Katrina. One-hundred cots were set up and air conditioners and portable showers were installed.
When I attended the University of Kentucky, I traveled the back roads of my state – a lot. On one of my excursions, I came across the abandoned Buckeye School. Back then, its lot was filled with relics of the past, namely automobiles. Jaguar, Jeep, Land Rover and Volkswagen carcasses lay scattered around the several acre lot. But I never went inside the actual school, and despite my vows to find the owner of the property – I graduated from school and moved away.
The Frenchburg Presbyterian College in Frenchburg, Kentucky was the first high school in Menifee County and offered a broad education for 50 years. The facility closed in May 1957 after serving 500 students and 30 staff. After closure, the buildings became home to a nursing home and retirement facility that operated for a few years, and later, a Boy’s Rehabilitation Center by the Commonwealth’s Child Welfare Agency. Most of the buildings are used as residences or as offices.
Driving down Gratiot Avenue in Detroit, Michigan late night in the summer of 2011, I came across the former Eastern Catholic High School. The obviousness of its abandonment, with its blown out windows and the hulking structure contrasting to the vast, empty lots surrounding it, made the four-level school all the more interesting to enter and photograph.
Several years ago, nine schools in Cincinnati, Ohio were auctioned to the highest and most qualified bidder. The McKinley School, along Eastern Avenue in the Columbia-Tusculum neighborhood, was one of those selected properties, with the auctions being managed by Higgenbotham Auctioneers of Florida.