The Beartown School
At one time, there were 132 schools in Wyoming County. As of 2015, there are 14. Long past and nearly forgotten are the one and two-room schoolhouses of rural West Virginia. RAIL works with dedicated volunteers to preserve the history of schools, arguably the most important community spaces in Central Appalachian culture.
Located on County Route 16/2 Crumpler Road seven miles from Herndon, the Beartown School is the only two-room schoolhouse left in Wyoming County. The Beartown community used the school for grades 1-6 from 1902 until 1962. From 1962 until 2011, The Beartown Quilting Club (BQC) leased the building from the Wyoming County Board of Education for use as a Community Center. In 2011, the Beartown Community Association (BCA) formed to assume the lease and continue the work of the BQC, with priority given to repairs and preservation of the building. RAIL has provided support and labor in the ongoing efforts to preserve the Beartown School.
Beartown Residents Care for their Treasured Two Room School House — From The Mullens Advocate, February 23, 2006
Beartown, West Virginia, located on a mountaintop near where Wyoming County meets Mercer and McDowell, has kept its two room schoolhouse and want to assure it is around for generations to come and enjoy.
Although classes haven’t been taught in the schoolhouse for many years the residents of this proud community still use the facility for a gathering place. On cold winter evenings Pete Bailey goes early to fire up the two Burnside stoves that have provided heat for the old schoolhouse for almost a century. At one time four such schools served this section of Wyoming County. Pete attended the upper Pinnacle Creek school that was about five miles down the mountain. There was still another school further on down Pinnacle Creek and one closer to Herndon. At one time these schools were placed all over the county so children could walk to school. The residents hope to paint the school and do repairs in the coming year…
Carmen passed away on May 8, 2008 at age 89. RAIL and the Beartown Community Association continued to renovate the school in her memory. In June 2011, a work crew from Central Baptist Church of Douglasville, GA power-washed and painted the outside of the building. The following November, RAIL brought the 9-person Americorps NCCC Delta 2 Team from Vicksburg, Mississippi to continue renovation work with the Beartown Community Association.
Over two-and-a-half days, the NCCC team: loaded (in Mullens) and unloaded (at Beartown) the drywall obtained by RAIL; tore down the ceiling in the front entry hall and cleaned up the debris including sawdust placed in the attic years ago for insulation; removed drop ceiling in the 2nd room and cleaned up debris; put up two sheets of drywall on the ceiling in the eating room; painted the walls and ceiling in the eating room; tore down the old coal house that was falling down; cut brush between the road and the schoolhouse. The Beartown Community Association provided lunch each day. The Association greatly appreciated this team for their assistance and hopes that their time spent in West Virginia was memorable and enjoyable.
AmeriCorps NCCC Delta 2 Team stationed in Vicksburg, Mississippi
Omaha, NE (Team Leader)
Jenna Perrit South Windsor, CT
Suira Pahman Honolulu, HI
Tina Marie Martini Clinton, NY
Kayli Greene Kingston, GA
Shannen Collins Cocoa, FL
Koran Johnson Vicksburg, MS
Harky Paulson Bend, OR
Kari Galensky Pittsburgh, PA