It was a dark and chilly afternoon…so it was perfect for a bit of snooping.
Off 31W near West Point, KY, there is a park with a small pavilion and a bridge on the Salt River…and a collapsed building that peeks out of the wintery tangles of shrubs and vines. It was that location, rumored to have once been a school for African Americans in a post-Civil War Kentucky, that called me out for a walk on a cloudy day.
Walking up to the building, this was my first introduction to this unfortunate remnant of yester-year.
This old water pump was sitting inconspicuously nearby in the side yard.
A close-up of the front door. Interesting structure as it appears that it had a small inner room just inside the front door, whereas most old schoolhouses I’ve seen are one-room in the most literal sense imaginable.
Looking to the right of the main door. The boards appear fairly new on the exterior, which would suggest that it had been renovated–at least on the outside–somewhat recently.
Looking to the left of the main entrance.
Close-up of the front steps and the foundation, which appears to be relatively solid in the front of the building.
At this point, we began to speculate that the building appeared to have fallen into itself–perhaps in one of Kentucky’s infamous windstorms–based on the appearance from the front.
However, as we walked around the side of the house, we started to see evidence that suggested more than just a pronounced windstorm was the ultimate cause of the building’s demise. Charred pieces of the roof in the back right corner (as you’re looking at the house from the front) visible even under the shingles suggest that as some point in the building’s history, there was a fire that was largely confined to the top of the structure. The roof lays directly before you, having fallen somewhat to the right of the house. Beneath the roof lies a toppled chimney and the associated bricks.
Looking into the building from the right side and slightly toward the front, this is largely a view of the roof and the interior of the schoolhouse’s front façade.
Remnants of the chimney under the roof as well as some charred boards and roof struts.
View of the back of the schoolhouse looking toward the front. The left exterior of the collapsed building is visible to the right in the photo. The roof is visible to the left and the front façade that remains somewhat upright is in the background. Note the two trees that stand like sentries at the fallen entrance, surviving long past the structure they were planted near.
A close-up of what appears to be electrical wiring near the front door.
The left side of the building (as it would appear from the front), nicely laid out on the lawn.
A view of the wreckage from behind, this time a bit further back.
Interestingly, the front door is still sitting next to the steps, very close to its original post.
Looking around the side and into the interior of the schoolhouse from the left side. Original interior boards visible to the right. It certainly appears from the outside that at least the external portion of the schoolhouse has been reasonably maintained. Inside…well, not looking quite as cared-for.
One more shot looking inside from the left.
A quick search on Google would indicate that this post is the first report that this historic structure has finally fallen. With the way the building’s walls and roof fell, it would be natural to suspect a windstorm as the culprit that ultimately brought about this structure’s demise. The charred pieces of the roof near the right back side of the schoolhouse bring up questions about the integrity of the structure to begin with, but it would appear that only a very small portion of this building was affected by fire, and it is unlikely that the fire had anything to do with the building’s eventual collapse.
This is quite a unique structure, which, by its very nature, warrants further research. Keep an eye out for the next installment as I delve into the history of this interesting building!