File photo/The Herald-Dispatch Opened in 1896, Cabell Elementary School was closed in 1977.

Editor's note: This is the 208th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.

HUNTINGTON — In 1889, the West Virginia Legislature enacted a measure providing for a school board of six members to administer the school affairs of the Huntington Independent School District. The first board elected under the law included Sam Gideon, B.H. Thackston, R. Enslow, H.M. Adams. W.O. Wiatt and H.C. Simmons. Gideon was elected the board's president and, with the exception of one year, held that post until 1899.

In 1933, the Legislature mandated that the state go to what's called the "county unit" system of operating its public schools. Local school boards such as the one in Huntington were abolished in favor of one school board per county.

In the 44 years it operated the city's schools before turning that responsibility over to the new Cabell County Board of Education, the Huntington board built a number of schools.

Among them was Cabell Elementary School, erected at 1030 Adams Ave. in 1896. The school was named for William H. Cabell, who was governor of Virginia from 1805 to 1808. (Cabell's name was also bestowed on the county when it was formed in 1809.)

Early enrollment figures for Cabell Elementary have been lost. We know that in the late 1950s and early 1960s it had fewer than 200 students. In the 1955-56 school year it had 193 students and in 1960-61 there were 194 students.

In 1961, Cabell Elementary had a brief moment in the spotlight when it was named the winner in a citywide competition sponsored by the Huntington Fire Department and the West Virginia Cleanup Campaign. Fire Chief John W. Gallagher praised the Cabell students for leaving "no stone unturned" in cleaning up their school and surrounding neighborhood. Principal Clara Chapmen accepted the trophy on behalf of the students.

By 1976, Cabell's enrollment had dwindled to 120 pupils. Accordingly, the old school was ordered closed the following year and its pupils distributed between Washington, Monroe and Jefferson elementaries. It took three attempts, but the former school building was finally sold at public auction in 1978.

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"Lost Huntington: Volume 1" is a hardcover, full-color book of some of the city's lost landmarks. The book is likely to be of interest to anyone who enjoys history and loves Huntington.

Books are $29.95 plus tax, shipping and handling. To order, visit media.herald-dispatch.com/ecom/ or call 304-526-2720.


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