The Glen Jean School was built during a time when the coal industry was booming in Glen Jean, West Virginia. Thomas McKell founded the town of Glen Jean in 1898 after purchasing land in the New River Gorge area in 1880. Eventually McKell built a railroad connecting Glen Jean and Thurmound. After building the railroad McKell proceeded to build a hotel, gambling hall, and houses for the workers, which resulted in a need for a school for the children of the town. The school was built in 1924 but would soon have to be rebuilt due to a fire in 1926.
Founded in the early 1870s Glen Jean, WV was a town rich in coal. The town was founded by Thomas McKell after he purchased the land once he found out about the lands rich coal properties. A neighboring town, Thurmond, was in competition with Glen Jean’s coal mining industry. McKell leased coal mining rights from Collins Colliery Company and began trying to develop the area into a thriving coal industry. In order to maintain the coal industry in Glen Jean, McKell needed to build a community for his workers. He started forming the community by building a railroad connecting Glen Jean and rival town Thurmond. McKell’s next step was constructing a hotel, gambling hall and school.