Point Pleasant's Mysterious & Magnificent Building
( Actually north, outside of town )
The back of the building
many years as a very young man right up into early adulthood, I
passed this spooky building just north of Point Pleasant WV. It
was located near, but across the road from the old Lakin State Mental
Institution. Naturally, I assumed that it was at one time part of
the mental hospital. I mean, how else could you explain such a
magnificent building complex? In 1924, no expense was spared to
build this huge building out in the middle of nowhere, especially back
then. It had extremely large barns and other outbuildings.
The grounds were as flat as a tabletop. It was, even in
it's last days.... a sight to behold.|
The ornate metalwork on the front
This was the large dining room
Same room, but looking into the kitchen
A dormitory room
Most likely a recreation room
A more private bedroom
One of the stairwells
BUT FOR ALL OF THOSE YEARS I WAS WRONG
SO WHAT WAS IT?
you see, it wasnt part of the state hospital at all. It was
something else entirely. And the funny thing is that I have
talked to several people close to my age who were born and raised in
Point Pleasant, and they had NO idea of what it was, thinking like me
that it was part of the hospital. Turns out that to this day,
the former complex is still a mystery to most people. Now, it's
completely gone. Not one pebble left behind where the building
It was "The State Industrial School For Colored Boys"
The building when new
View from the back
The dairy barn
Another large barn
Amazingly, they even had their own swimming pool in 1925
One of the workshops, where boys were taught a trade while keeping up the farm.
Another workshop to teach a trade, using only the best equipment.
The Lakin Industrial School for Colored Boys was founded by T.G. Nutter,
Harry Capehart and T.J. Coleman, three African-American legislators that created
several state-funded reform institutions for blacks between 1919 and 1921.
Several structures were constructed west of West Virginia route 62 in rural
Mason County, north of Point Pleasant and adjacent to the Lakin State Hospital
complex. The primary school building, a three-story brick structure, was built
in 1924 out of fireproof materials; it was the first building to be erected. A
gymnasium was added in the 1940s, along with several smaller buildings.
The Lakin Industrial School closed in 1956, only two years after the
Brown versus Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas decision that led to the
gradual desegregation of many public schools and colleges in West Virginia.
Those who remained before its closure were transfered to the Industrial School
at Pruntytown. The buildings were later owned by the West Virginia Department
of Health and Human Services, the same owners of Lakin State Hospital across the
state highway that divides the two. The school property was then deeded over to
the West Virginia Department of Agriculture in 1976. An arson-attempt in 2000
did little damage to the main building, a testament to the brute strength of
the building even after 50 years of abandonment.
|For 50 years I passed this building, watching it deteriorate
decade by decade. I couldnt help but wonder why such a complex,
that cost the taxpayers SO much money back then and couldnt be built
today, was allowed to crumble. A few years ago I decided to
look into it's history, and was very surprised at my findings.
Like I mentioned earlier, even many of the people of Point
Pleasant didnt know it's history. Odd how that happens all too
building has since been bulldozed into the
ground. There is not one single trace of any kind that it ever
stood. It was as
though it had never existed in the first place. I'm glad I took
the time to document the building before it was too late, as the Lakin
Industrial Home for Colored Boys was purchased by AEP, and the building
was demolished in November 2006
Exactly where the building once stood.
FACTS: The school operated for 32 years, finally
closing in 1956. After it closed, the land was owned by the West Virginia Department on Health
and Human Services until they sold the property to the West Virginia Department
of Agriculture in 1976. In 2006, the land was purchased by American Electric
Power . The main building cost
$103,600 in 1924. That's equivalent to $1,340,796.05 in
2011 dollars. A million three would have purchased 10 times more
building than today however as the average worker made about 75
cents an hour. The school housed an average of 90 boys, with a
high of 105. My guesstimate on the value of the entire
complex would have been around 25 million in today's dollars.|