Hardy County is peppered with unique schoolhouses that will allow you to step back in time.
written by KARIN FULLER
photographed by DEVIN LACY
One-room schoolhouses were once commonplace in rural West Virginia, but those schoolhouses have become relics of the past. Many have deteriorated, burned, or been torn down.
Some, however, have withstood the test of time, like the Cullers Run School that served the Mathias area of the southwestern quadrant of Hardy County. Opened in 1898, the school had no indoor plumbing and drew its water from a nearby creek. The cost of the original building was just $137. Although the school closed in 1956 and sat empty for many years, a group of volunteers restored the building to look just as it did when children last filled every desk. There are period-authentic lunch pails and water glasses, books, and writing materials—even the original stove.
The school is now part of the Mountain Heritage Trails project, which was incubated through the Hardy County Convention and Visitors Bureau in partnership with the Appalachian Forest National Heritage Area AmeriCorps program. A full tour of the Historic Schoolhouse Trail can be found at theclio.com/tour/2291. There are 22 old schoolhouses on the Hardy County driving tour, so visitors can drive through the county and get a firsthand encounter with the buildings and terrain.
“Traveling the trail makes our history come alive,” says Shefa Nola Benoit, the Heritage Trail Project Coordinator. “History is typically considered stagnant. You gather the facts and that’s the story. It rarely alters. But the trails make our history dynamic.”
The Cullers Run schoolhouse is open each year during the Hardy County Heritage Weekend, September 22–24 this year, and when former students have their reunion every two years. Visitors are welcome to view the restoration project through the windows and take pictures, being mindful that the property they’re on is privately owned.
“The schoolhouse trail is one of a few trails we’re working on to improve tourism and highlight history and heritage,” says Nola Benoit. “We want to get tourists to linger longer and see some of our local history. To get that step-back-in-time experience.”