Memories of a School Building

© Jerry F. Couch

The CVT archival photos of the demolition of the old St. Paul School were taken in October and November of 1991.  The building had been superseded by new high school and elementary school buildings.

Constructed in 1922, this building represented a substantial cash outlay (over $60,000) by citizens of Wise County.  Some of this money was raised through the sale of school bonds.  This was the culmination of long-term efforts by local citizens to provide children of the St. Paul area with the same educational opportunites afforded students in other regions of the state.  The effort succeeded remarkably well.

1934 PHOTO
In this 1934 photo the school building still looks fresh and new.  It was a source of well-deserved community pride.

The building was designed by architect Donald R. Beeson and was St. Paul’s third school.  Beeson was a master of detail, proportion, and the conceptualization of space.  His other local commissions included the St. Paul Baptist Church and possibly the St. Paul Apartments as well.  During his employement with the Clinchfield Coal Corporation, he built a substantial home for himself on Third Avenue in St. Paul.  This house was subsequently purchased by Mrs. Caroline Molinary in the middle ‘teens and remained the Molinary family’s homeplace until it was torn down due to the instability of the nearby Wise Street cut.

BEFORE 01.jpg
This photo was taken in October of 1991 shortly before demolition of the school building began.  


As with so many things that take years to build up, it takes only a short time to tear it all down.  Generations of students were well-served by this school for almost 70 years.

After the old school’s death, its grave was smoothed over, flowers & shrubs were planted, and the education of young people moved forward in new, spacious, and up-to-date buildilngs.


No article about the St. Paul School would be complete without mentioning the school’s faculty, several of whom served our community until their retirement.  Pictured in this 1934 photo are:  [Seated, L ro R] Louisa Holton Morris, Elizabeth Greear, Elizabeth Mann, W. D. Richmond (the school’s principal), Nancy Kate Bond, and Amelia Hatchett.  [Standing L ro R] Roy D. Cox, W. O. Kaylor, Mary Rush, —- Sheldon, Evelyn Alsover Dickenson, and Elizabeth Muse.

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