Hutch School — Bell County, Kentucky

Hutch School is probably the first abandoned school that I ever noticed as a kid.  It’s not too far from my home and we frequent the road by it and have for years.


Hutch School is located on State Highway 217 about 7 miles northeast of Middlesboro.

Photo courtesy of the Kentuckiana Photo Archive

The school was built by the WPA in 1936.



Today the school stands adjacent to a neighborhood church and has for as long as i can remember.


The schooi is built of stone and I guess that has helped keep this school in such good shape.


Today Im not sure what the church connected next door uses the school building for, or even if they do.


I have no earthly idea as to when this school closed.  As I stated at the beginning of this entry, its been closed as long as I can remember… At least to the 1mid to late 1980s.  As always, if anyone reads this and has information on this school, feel free to comment!




Cumberland High School — Harlan County, Kentucky

Cumberland High School served students in the tri cities area of Harlan County Kentucky
Cumberland High School served students in the tri cities area of Harlan County Kentucky

Cumberland High School was home of the Redskins and served students in the tri cities area for over 75 years until it closed in 2008.


Cumberland High School will be the school that will be the focus of this entry.  Cumberland is a city located in the northern part of Harlan County near the Letcher County line on US 119.  Coal is king in all of Harlan County, but probably more so in the Tri Cities area than in any other part of the county.  This has lead to the Cumberland area being hit harder than say the Harlan area with declining enrollment in their schools.  In 1989 Cumberland High School had over 600 students.  When the school closed in 2008 enrollment was 310.


Cumberland High School was built in the early 1930s with an addition in the late 70s-early 80s.   Not one, not two but technically three high schools were absorbed by Cumberland High School over its 75 year history.   Benham High School, which was 4 miles away in the company town of Benham closed in 1961.   Around that same time Lynch West Main or otherwise known as the Lynch Colored High School was integrated into Lynch High School.  Lynch was a separate school district at that time and would remain that way until 1981 when the school district along with its schools were closed and high school students from Lynch High School were sent to Cumberland High School.


Back around the turn of the century in 1999 and 2000 a new committee was formed in the Harlan County School District to look at the current facilities and decide schools that needed remodeled or replaced.    Everyone knew that the district’s 3 high schools,  James A. Cawood, Evarts and Cumberland were in dire need of attention as the later was newest of the three being built in the mid 1960s.   Cumberland and Evarts dated all the way back to the 1920s and 1930s.


At the time, school consolidation, especially high school consolidation was a hot topic.  This topic was argued back and forth for a couple of years.  Finally the Facilities planning committee voted 9-7 to consolidate the counties three high schools into a brand new facility at an uspecified location.


The school board agreed and in a 3-2 vote approved to begin to make plans to build a new centralized school.


Some in the county, particularly in the Tri Cities area were pretty upset with the way things turned out and they took the fight all the way to the Kentucky Board of Education.


You have to wonder just where has that old Pepsi can been hiding.

After a lengthy fight, in 2003 the Kentucky Board of Education sided with the pro-consolidation movement and plans were back on track to build a new high school in Harlan County that would lead to the closure of Cawood, Evarts and Cumberland.


School construction began on what would become Harlan County High School in 2006.   The people of the tri cities were still not ready to concede.  There were even rumblings that the people of the tri cities would form their own independent school district separate of Harlan County to keep their high school in their community.


Eventually all of the controversy died down and in May of 2008 Cumberland High School held a commencement ceremony for its final graduating class of 67 seniors.  Cumberland ended the 2007-08 school year with right at 310 students in grades 9-12.


Since the school was closed in 2008 there have been various rumors of its future use, including everything from part of the land being repurposed for a McDonalds to the old school being sold to the community college that is less than a mile away.  The latter project was even listed in various budget items in the Kentucky General Assembly as recently as 2014.


Considering some of the other abandoned schools I have ran across the school at Cumberland is still in fairly good condition.  There are a lot of broken windows and busted doors, but those parts of the building were probably not up to building code anyway.


As you can see in this picture Cumberland recieved a substatial addition.



This classroom is located in the front of the building.



This classroom is on the other side of the entryway from the first classroom on the front side of the building.



The gymnasium is still very true to its original archetectual values with the rounded roof that was present on many gyms in Harlan County that were built during this era.


The hardwood has been removed from the basketball court.






As you can tell, vandals have had their fun with several of the windows and just about every exterior door in the building has had the glass shattered.





Before closing this entry let me just say that this entry is probably one of my most ‘wordy’ so far concerning an abandoned school.  I live in and have lived in Harlan County a great part of my life.  I lived here when the consolidation fight was taking shape.  Sadly, I really didnt pay a lot of attention when it was going on but some of the issues and instances stick out in my mind when I think back to it.  I done a little research before writing this blog and the one thing that stood out at me was the number of Cumberland High Schools that there are in the world!  Rhode Island, Illinois, Virginia and even Australia!  Hopefully the people of Cumberland and the tri cities can find a way to utilize this building for the good of the community.  I leave you with a couple of pictures that I took of the high school during the summer of 2008 right after classes had ended for the last time at Cumberland High School.    It was around this time that I was just getting into digital photography and urbex exploring.



Enjoy this blog and as always if any of you have any details or information about this school please comment or message me.  Thank you for reading!19027468634_d6995efae1_o

Martha School — Lawrence County, Kentucky

MarthaMapThe Martha School is a typical 1930s Public Works school building constructed of cut sand stone.  It is located near the intersection of State Route 32 and State Route 459 in the western part of Lawrence County.


The building, when I photographed it in 2012 was being used for hay storage.


Jolo Grade School — McDowell County, West Virginia


When you drive in to McDowell County from the southwest from the Grundy, Virginia area you ascend the Tug Valley from a top a mountain on state route 83.  As you travel to the bottom of the valley from Paynesville toward Bradshaw and Iaeger, the first “town” you come to is Jolo.


Now there isnt a whole lot to see in Jolo, West Virginia.  Its your typical unincorporated small community in a coal mining area.   However, there is a pristine exampe of a vintage New Deal era school construction alive and well up on a hillside from the highway.


There is that fancy art-deco like font that has been found on many other schools from this era in McDowell.


Jolo Grade School was constructed in 1939 by the Public Works Administration.


The school closed sometime in the mid 1990s when students were then consolidated into Bradshaw Elementary less than 5 miles away.  This building now serves as a community center.

Pageton Grade School — McDowell County, West Virginia


Pageton Grade School is located in the unincorporated community of Pageton, West Virginia in southeastern McDowell County.  Pageton is located about 15 miles southeast of Welch on WV State route 161 about 7 miles from Gary.


Pageton is a former company centered town once powered by Page Coal & Coke Company.  The old company store still remains standing and has a place on the National Register of Historic Places.


Pageton Grade school appears to have closed in the late 1980s or early 1990s.  I assume students from Pageton were moved to nearby Anawalt or possibly Gary, seeing as how at the time when this school closed, schools at Gary were still in session.


As you can see the interior of the school has been let go very badly and like many other schools in this area has fallen into a state of decay.



As you can see, the word PAGETON is spelled out on the front entrance in the same font that is used at several other schools that were built in the 1920s and 1930s in McDowell County.   I assume this school was built in that same era.  It is probably most similar to the school at nearby Jolo which will be covered in my next entry in ths blog.



Rocky Branch School — Wayne County, Kentucky


Rocky Branch School is located in the eastern part of Wayne County Kentucky near the McCreary County line between the communities of Rocky Branch and Coopersville on Kentucky State Route 92.


Rocky Branch School is a prime example of a school building built during President Franklin Roosevelt’s  New Deal and the WPA.


The school was built sometime in the 1930s and is built out of the same cut sandstone that was used at the Wayne County High School on down the road in neighboring Monticello that is now on the National Register of Historic Places.


At some point, probably in the 1960s the school recieved a small addition on the building’s south side.


Rocky Branch closed to students after the 1984-85 school year as Wayne County began a consolidation process that left them with more centralized schools in the county.


Ages School — Ages-Brookside, Kentucky

Ages Elementary School is a former school located in the Ages Community of Harlan County, Kentucky located off of Kentucky State Route 38 between the cities of Harlan and Evarts.


The building is built of beautiful cut stone construction typical of many of the early 20th century buildings in this part of the world.  I cant pinpoint a construction date, but by the architectural details and cues I would guess late 1920s to early 1930s would be a good estimate of the opening date for this school.

Ages1 The building is a basic elongated H shape with wings on both ends of the building.


The school was last used in the early part of the 2000’s by KCEOC as a headstart and preschool location.


The building suffered some flooring and roof problems and those classes were moved to nearby Verda Elementary after Verda closed in 2001.


Im not completely sure when this school was last used as an elementary school.  My guess would be early 80s to late 70s.



Downstairs the boiler room was left wide open and easily accessed.



The basic structural integrity of the building is still in tact as the exterior walls are still standing firm and the roof is fully intact.


The floors have now been removed from every single room that I could see in.


and there are a few holes in the interior walls exposing the old type construction this building utilized.



as you can see almost every window in this building has been busted out.  These windows coincidentally appear to be the same size and type that was used at Hall High School / Hall Elementary and that building was completed in 1929.



Another classroom sans the floor.



You have to love the nice graffiti that some idiot felt appropriate to tag the walls with.


Stay away.  Haha.


At least the front doors are secure and locked now.



A community park now sits adjacent to the school on part of the school property.



As always, if anyone has any more information on this school or its history please comment or send me a message.  I would love to hear any input!