The Greenbrier Hill School
The Greenbrier Hill School in Marlinton, WV was one of eight African American schools serving the black youth of Pocahontas County. The Board of Education, Edray District of Pocahontas County, WV purchased the property September 5, 1917 from Uriah Bird. The Greenbrier Hill School was in operation from 1917-1966. Marlinton saw an increase in its black population due to the arrival of the C&O Railroad in 1900 and the subsequent timber boom, as well as the emergence of a large scale industrial tannery facility. Thus, prompting a need for additional education beyond the home for the black community.
Backstory and Context
The Greenbrier Hill School allowed students to receive an elementary through 8th grade education. No secondary education was available to black students in Pocahontas County. Those desiring to attend high school had to travel outside the county, the closest being Greenbrier County, WV. Faculty members of the Greenbrier Hill School were Rev. Goodwin, Jessie Mitchell, Cora Davis, Emma Brinkley, Mr. Ellis, Ida Choice, Sidney Goodwin, Marie Goodwin and Edna Knapper. Knapper was the only teacher in the county with a master's degree at one time.
William "Billy" Lindsay, a former student of Edna Knapper, recalls the impression she left on him. "I truly believe she was and still is a tremendous inspiration and contributed to all my efforts in acquiring higher education, even if late in life. I admit that lots was learned in these one room school houses. The discipline was strict but later learned to be of a necessity. I am certain that all coming from beneath these roofs can make the same admittance."
Lindsay recollects his time spent at Greenbrier Hill School when he started in 1937. "We had to walk from the tannery row. It set above the then regularly used railroad coal tipple. The building consisted of two large rooms separated by a hallway which contained cloakrooms and restrooms. Playgrounds were on both sides, although dangerously not protected from falling into the roadway. Each room is estimated to have had seating capacity of 35 or 40 persons."
The Greenbrier Hill School was the longest operating African American school in Pocahontas County. After the 1954 Supreme Court ruling for desegregation, it wasn't until 1966 that all the schools in the county were integrated. The reason the Greenbrier Hill School remained open until 1966 was that the Board of Education claimed there wasn't enough room available at Marlinton Elementary for extra students.
The Greenbrier Hill School is currently privately owned and is not open for interior viewing. Exterior viewing is possible via public street access. It is located on lots 7, 8 and 9 of the Bird Addition, between 210 and 118 on Greenbrier Hill (4th Avenue). No official address is listed in public records. Upon viewing the building, the exterior also reveals a hand laid cribbage wall, stairway and well house door into an embankment.
Deed Book 210, Page 435, Pocahontas County Clerk's Office
History of Pocahontas County 1981 (page 60-61) copyright 1981 Pocahontas County Historical Society, Inc. Marlinton, WV
Notes/binder with informal discussion with William P. McNeel, Treasurer/Historian of Pocahontas County Historical Society
December 2, 1976 (page. 8) The Pocahontas Times - Letter To The Editor by William "Billy" Lindsay
McClintic Library Heritage Room - Marlinton, WV
Bickley, Ancella R. "African-American Education." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia.
05 Feb 2016. Web. July 2017