The Yancey Collegiate Institute
The old Yancey Collegiate Institute building
Backstory and Context
In 1905 a girls dormitory was built. The Watson home for girls, which was named for Mr. E.F. Watson, stood south of the the main building. In 1907, Dr. A.E. Brown secured funds for an extension to the girls dormitory. The extension was called the Annie Armstrong annex. A boys dormitory was built in 1908. The Bennett home for boys was located to the west of the main building and was named in honor of a local family that donated the property for the dormitory. In 1914 the Brown Dormitory for Boys was built northwest of the main building on lot which was purchased from Mr. L.J. Carter. A new girls dormitory, which included a dining room for the entire student body, was built.
On 11 November, 1918, the main building burned to the ground. Despite the loss, classes continued to meet at the Bennett home. All of the school's record and the well equipped library were destroyed by the fire. A new structure was erected and commissioned for use the following year. The new main building contained twelve classrooms, two society halls, two music studios, a study hall, and a large auditorium. The new main building was also equipped with electricity and steam heat.
In 1922, the second main building partially burned and again destroyed the school's record, library, and furniture. The school rebuilt the structure using the foundation and the exterior walls. Despite increasing enrollment following the second fire, the school began to suffer from financial problems. Growing debt and an increase in the number of public high schools throughout the area forced the school to close. The Board of Trustees voted to close the school in 1925. Later that year, the Yancey County Board of Education purchased the property for $65,000, though the property was worth over $105,000. The school reopened as Burnsville High School for the 1925-1926 school year.
WPA funding was secured for the construction of a new high school in Burnsville. The new Burnsville High School was built across the street from the old Yancey Collegiate Institute. Construction of the new high school was completed in November 1939, and Burnsville Elementary School relocated from the old Brown Dormitory for Boys to the old Yancey Collegiate Institute main building. The old main building served as the location for Burnsville Elementary School until a new elementary school was built in 1991.
After the relocation of Burnsville Elementary School in 1991, the old Yancey Collegiate Institute building remained unoccupied for several years. Due to extended neglect, the building slowly deteriorated until the building was remodeled for the relocation of the Yancey County Public Library. The Yancey County Public Library officially relocated to the old Yancey Collegiate Institute Building in July, 2011.