Editor's Note: This is the 216th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
HUNTINGTON - Simms Elementary School, at 1680 11th Ave., served Huntington's Fairfield West Neighborhood as an elementary school for more than 60 years.
The original school building was built in 1899. In 1907 it was named for Henry Clay Simms a year after his death. Simms was a prominent Huntington attorney and a member of the Simms and Enslow law firm. Among the firm's clients was the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway. Simms had also served on Huntington's first school board in 1889.
In 1919, the school board authorized its Committee on Buildings and Grounds to purchase an additional lot for a $4,740 expansion of Simms School. Huntington architect Richard M. Bates (1887-1948) was hired to design the expansion. In the 1920s, Bates designed a number of banks, schools, churches and other public buildings in southern West Virginia,
For Simms School, he designed an impressive two-story, brick and steel frame structure in the Neoclassical style of architecture popular at the time of its construction (1919-20). The building has a unique center limestone colonnade entrance, and an open second-story porch. Its fine Neoclassical details and unusual colonnade entrance made it stand out from other schools being built in the community at that time and made it a predominant feature in the Fairfield West neighborhood, which was primarily laid out and developed in the 1920s.
In 1964, an addition housing a cafeteria and gymnasium was designed by Huntington architect Albert F. Tucker and constructed on the west side of the school.
Simms School was closed in 1981-82. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997. Remodeled that year in a project partially funded with a $200,000 grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission, it now houses 20 apartments for the elderly.