Editor's note: This is the 202nd in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
HUNTINGTON - Jefferson Elementary School at Jefferson Avenue and 19th Street W. opened in 1911 and was named, logically enough, for the avenue where it was built.
Huntington was rapidly growing at the turn of the century, and the school system was challenged to keep up with that growth. Jefferson was one of a half dozen schools the city built in a five-year span. Lincoln Elementary and Miller Elementary opened in 1912, the Johnson School in 1915, and the Gallaher and Guyandotte Schools in 1916. The city's new high school on 8th Street also welcomed its first students in 1916.
Jefferson was extensively remodeled and enlarged over its 86-year history. School system records show additions were made to the school in 1939, 1949, 1954 and 1981.
Enrollment figures for Jefferson's early years are unavailable, but statistics beginning in the 1950s show a steady decline as the neighborhood around the school changed. In 1957-58 Jefferson had 315 students. By 1982-83, its enrollment had declined to 181 students. In 1995-96, it had 130.
Early in 1996, the Cabell County Board of Education proposed closing the old school. At a public hearing, school officials cited frequent plumbing and electrical problems at the school and said its heating system and roof needed repairs estimated to cost more than $1 million. A number of parents who spoke at the hearing said they would like to see the school closed so their children could attend a proposed new school. No parents spoke against the closing.
Jefferson Elementary was closed at the end of the 1996-97 school year. Today the former school building is home to the Celebration Church.
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