Windy Run Grade School is a small, one-room schoolhouse in Braxton County, West Virginia. It was built in 1889 and operated until around 1963. Windy Run remains an excellent example of the typical one-room schoolhouse buildings that once proliferated around West Virginia. These small, simple structures were built in large quantities across the state in order to reach students in rural, isolated areas. Of the thousands of one-room schoolhouses that once existed in West Virginia, only a handful remain today. Windy Run is the last one in Braxton County, and today is preserved as a museum. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984.
many years one-room schoolhouses were an integral part of the West Virginia
school system. The state’s rugged terrain and sparse, scattered population made
it necessary to erect a large number of small schools in order to make
education accessible to all children. Most students had a school within walking
distance, typically two or three miles away. These schools were usually simple,
small, wood frame, one-room structures. They were designed to accommodate only
those in the local neighborhood, and rarely had more than a few dozen students.
A cast iron potbelly stove stood in the center of the room for warmth during
the winters, and outhouses were located behind the building.
for one-room schools often did not have very impressive credentials. Fortunate ones
were able to attend state normal schools and teaching colleges to receive
teaching certificates, while in some situations teachers were hired simply by
passing an exam after high school. It was common for students of all grades to
attend class at the same time. Older students would be expected to help teach
the younger students. Chalk slates were used in lieu of writing paper, which
was expensive. Subjects taught including reading, writing, arithmetic, and
geography. Classes would also memorize and recite the Lord’s Prayer, the Pledge
of Allegiance, and patriotic songs.
schoolhouses proved an effective way of educating children in West Virginia
before better modes of transportation were developed. At their peak in 1930,
there were over 4,500 across the state. The number began to decline in the
mid-1930s as the improvement of roads, the introduction of school buses, and
the reorganization of the state school system into county boards of education
allowed for the consolidation of schools into larger facilities. One-room
schoolhouses still managed to linger for a number of years in the most rural
areas of the state; the last known one in West Virginia did not close until
1978. Most of the buildings were eventually destroyed, but a handful survive
today as small museums.
Windy Run Grade School is believed to have been built in 1889 by a local
builder named Jacob Huffman. The twenty-four feet long by twenty-eight feet
wide structure is a prime example of a nineteenth century one-room schoolhouse,
displaying all the common features of these structures. Windy Run was one of
the latter schools to close, remaining open until 1963. It is the last
surviving one-room schoolhouse in Braxton County, and today it has been
preserved as a museum. Since 1948 an annual homecoming of former students has
been held at the site. The school is maintained and opened for tours by the
Windy Run Historical Association, which received a West Virginia Culture &
History Award for their efforts in 1998.