|Back to The Future|
Built in 1966, it was the newest of schools in the Randolph County School System and would have made a perfect place for the bright young minds of the area after integration. However, the town was split in two. Two downtowns, two schools and two colors were literally divided by the railroad track through the middle of town and that served as a barrier between Liberty and West Liberty.
Rather than close the older "white" school or permit both schools to operate whereby white students might need to venture into the "black" side of town, the school board, undoubtedly with racist political pressure, decided to close the newer school in West Liberty. The result was that students were required to walk the three miles into town to the remaining school on the "white" side of town. Residents who remember the closing of the school claim it was "devastating" and "meant a loss of community and pride".
Now privately owned, the structure remains abandoned and in decay despite pleas from the community for the city to purchase the infrastructure and turn it into a community center. Recently, it was added to the record of historical structures in Randolph County.
We decided to do a bit of urban exploration at the old gymnasium and was amazed at what we saw. While it's a sad to witness, I find it a bit ironic, especially in light of the recent HB2 legislation, that there's still something to learn here some sixty years after desegregation.
|The gymnasium floor, stage and basketball goal.|
|The clock and scoreboard stopped in time.|
|It's amazing, there's still toilet paper on the roll from the mid 20th century.|
|A hallway inside the main building.|
|An abandoned classroom.|
Image credit: Chance Jones