Point Pleasant's Mysterious & Magnificent Building

( Actually north, outside of town )

Point Pleasant WV

For 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.

Point Pleasant WV

The back of the building

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

A bathroom

One of the stairwells

For 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 once stood....

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.

Another trade.

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 often.  

The 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.

QUICK 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.