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Oak Hill, West Virginia

Glen Jean School

An abandoned 1920s school with a mysterious history. 

The history of the abandoned Glen Jean School is unclear, at best. There are reports that it had been used as an elementary school and a high school. Some of the remnants that are left on the wall suggest that its last incarnation may have been (at least partially) an elementary school. There are even some reports that it was used as a hospital for a short period, which contribute to a few local legends.

This structure, along with the McKell Bank, which sits just down the road, is one of the few remaining structures left from the early days of the New River mining. However, unlike the bank, the school sits abandoned with lots of remnants to be found, including some graffiti from 1966.

The town of Glen Jean, West Virginia was founded by Thomas McKell, the bitter rival of Captain William Thurmond, founder of neighboring Thurmond (now a ghost town). In order to compete in the coal mining trade with his neighbor, McKell needed to start building a community for his workers toiling in the mines, which included a school house for the families. The first school house burnt down in 1924; which was most likely Thurmond’s fault—they seemed to like setting each other’s property on fire. The building that stands today came shortly after, built in 1925, with the second floor added in 1926.

The school remained in continuous operation until 1997. The building was purchased in 1999 to serve as business offices and visitor center for the Thurmond, Glen Jean, and Great New River Railroad, but was closed in 2006 when the railroad was sold.

There are also many accounts of the property being haunted, which some claim are from its past history of being a hospital, and others claim from a brutal murder that occurred there many years ago.

Update August 2017: The school has been gutted to be converted into a community center. 

Know Before You Go

If you are visiting Thurmond, which can be found via Google Maps, the school will be on your route just after the McKell Bank.

Contributed by
Gin Minsky
Edited by