Alderson Academy – Alderson, West Virginia - Atlas Obscura
Alderson Academy is permanently closed.

Alderson Academy

Alderson, West Virginia

This abandoned school has had many lives since the early 1900s, and all of them doomed. 


The structure of the old Alderson Academy building, built in 1901, has seen better days. Floors are collapsing in on themselves, leaving many areas of the building completely inaccessible. If you try to climb the beautiful staircase that greets you at the main entrance, you’ll see that it leads to nowhere.

The historic building has been home to nearly every type of educational institution possible, and none of them with any lasting success. Opened as a private school for young men and women in the town of Alderson, West Virginia, it thrived for a short period until public high schools became more popular, offering the same education for the low price of zero dollars. 

The academy began to struggle, until someone had the bright idea to offer two-year college level courses, and it became a junior college in 1918. The four-story brick building that still (barely) stands today was completed in 1924. Six years later, it transformed yet again into a senior college, but faced financial hardship once more in the Great Depression and was eventually abandoned.

From 1935 to 1953, the building sat vacant while interested parties attempted and failed to find a use for the space. It finally opened as the Mountain State Baptist High School, but that institution, too, struggled and failed, closing in the 1980s. After that, the building was used as rental apartments into the mid-’90s, when it was once more deserted. Now it lies abandoned, with no future plans—a haunting ruin of its turbulent past.

Know Before You Go

The school is located off of route 12 on the top of a hill in the center of town. Be mindful of the trailer homes that are parked right and front. There are also a couple of noisy small dogs that live there, and are outside from time to time. They are friendly, but they will draw attention to you. Like any of these places, be mindful of where you’re walking!

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