Editor's Note: This is the 294th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
HUNTINGTON — A New York native, Union General John Hunt Oley served with distinction in the Civil War. In 1871, he moved to the then-new community of Huntington, where rail tycoon Collis P. Huntington employed him as a sales agent for his Central Land Company. Oley was elected recorder and treasurer in the new city's first election. As recorder, Oley was in charge of establishing Huntington's first school system.
In 1888, a brick school building consisting of 10 rooms, an office and a basement was erected on 5th Avenue at 13th Street. Because Oley had died as the school building neared completion, it was named in his honor.
In 1904, the city's first high school, named Central High School, was constructed east of the 1888 building. Later the two buildings were joined to form a single complex under one roof, stretching from 13th Street to 14th Street.
When the new Huntington High School building was built on 8th Street in 1916, the first high school was renamed Central Junior High. About 1940, its name was changed again, this time to Oley Junior High.
Declining enrollments brought the closure of both Oley Elementary and Oley Junior High and in 1979 both schools were demolished. Initially, the vacant block-long property was acquired by nearby River Park Hospital. Later it was purchased by St. Joseph Catholic High School.