Back in the Spring of 2008 I had saw a news story on WCYB about the relocation of the entire town of Grundy, Virginia. I hopped in my Celica and decided I had to see that project. Somehow I ended up driving and driving and driving and ended up in Welch, West Virginia. I fell in love, I guess its one of my quirks. I truly love the off-beat places and McDowell County is at the top of that list. Over the past 10 years I have explored, at last count 12 abandoned schools, most of which have been demolished. I was amazed. There was abandoned greatness everywhere. So much history was right there ready for me to discover. I fell in love with Welch and McDowell County that day and that love affair is still going strong. I remember in 2008 Welch, which is the county seat had a Big Lots store and a Magic Mart store. A few miles away there was a Walmart Super Center. In the 1950’s McDowell County had over 100,000 residents. Today, it sits at 18,546.
Over the last 10 years I have made at least 8 visits exploring and documenting.
I’ve even made a few friends from the area. Is it because I see commonalities between McDowell County and my own home town? Granted Harlan County hasnt seen the decline that McDowell has, we have still had our stumbles. A lot of my documentation has been sad happenings. From the old Iaeger High School demolition (which I still use to this day photos from as my cover photo on Facebook) To the fire at Big Creek High School, the closing of the Walmart store in Kimball, to the reworked riverfront in downtown Welch. Today another sad chapter has come to pass for the town and county. The town’s Magic Mart closed it’s doors for the last time.
Since my first visit in 2008 all of the mass merchandise discount stores (Big Lots, Walmart and now Magic Mart) have all closed their doors in McDowell County. There are parts of the county that are at least 40-50 miles away from their nearest get everything store I feel such sadness for this county and its people. At the same time I feel a weird sense of being grateful in that I found McDowell County and I have been able to document this area and its rich history.
The Indiana World War Memorial Building is the centerpiece of the Indiana World War Memorial Plaza; a five block memorial originally concieved in 1919 as a location for the national headquarters of the American Legion and a memorial to the state’s and nation’s veterans.
The memorial’s design is based upon the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, which was one of the Seven Wonders of the World. At 210 feet tall it is approximately 75 feet taller than the original Mausoleum. The blue lights which shine between columns on the side of the War Memorial make the monument easily recognizable. It is the most imposing neoclassical structure in Indianapolis due to its scale and size.
On September 25, 1989 the Indiana World War Memorial place was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Scott Theater was built and opened in 1947. After closing as a movie theatre it was later renovatated in 2002 and converted into a country music hall named the Scottsburg Jamboree. Later the theater was renamed to Ross Country Jamboree. The theater currently hosts weekly live music performances in the vein of The Grand Ole Opry. The theater has an audience capacity of 500.
Continuing with my obsession with Kmart and keeping the memory alive, during my road trip through the heart of North Central Indiana, I managed to visit several Kmart stores. The most notable of those was this location in Peru.
Coming in at just over 28,000 square feet, this is the smallest Kmart left in operation in the entire 600 +/- store chain. This store opened for business on September 18, 1975. There are a couple of stores in small towns, particularly in the upper midwest and mountain west that are nearly as small as this store.
To give you an idea as to how small this store is, the average Walmart Super Center is nearly 170,000 square feet. This store at 28,000 is basically the size of a small grocery store.
Kmart / Sears this week announced another round of store closings, including 49 more Kmart locations. Thankfully, this little relic wasnt included on the list and lives to fight another day.
The State Theatre is located at 321 East Market Street in Logansport, Indiana.
The theatre opened on June 8, 1940 with 1,074 seats. A second screen was later added, and operated as a movie theatre into late 2008.
The State is now a live performance venue