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Courtesy of James Casto Ensign Elementary School welcomed its first students in 1904.

Editor's note: This is the 19th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington landmarks.

HUNTINGTON - In 1904, Huntington built a new elementary school at 4th Avenue and 21st Street and named it for one of the city's best-known early business leaders.

Industrialist, banker, churchman and political figure - Ely Ensign (1841-1902) was all that and more. A Connecticut businessman, Ensign came to Huntington and established the Ensign Manufacturing Co. in 1872, the very year the West Virginia Legislature officially chartered the new city of Huntington. The plant's first product was railroad car wheels, but soon it began building rail cars. By 1895 it was turning out more than 4,000 cars a year. In 1899, it was one of 13 car builders consolidated into the American Car & Foundry Co. (ACF).

Ensign was president of the Huntington National Bank, chairman of the building committee that erected Trinity Episcopal Church and a member of City Council. He served as mayor in 1896-97.

An article in the Jan. 30, 1904 issue of the Huntington Herald newspaper described the new school building named for Ensign as "substantial and commodious," one that would "stand and do good service to the children of the city for a great many years."

The article described the building's classrooms as well-lighted by "an abundance of window surface." Heating was provided by four large gas furnaces. Sanitary wash basins and drinking fountains were located in every cloak closet.

The school served students in its East Huntington neighborhood for nearly 80 years. Closed in 1981, it was demolished in 1984 to make way for construction of Marshall University's new football stadium.

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