Fort Gay High School


The former Fort Gay High School was originally named Butler District High School.


In the 1920s, the tiny Wayne County town of Fort Gay had a grade school and a junior high,
but students of high-school age had to ride a bus to Wayne High School. The town
decided it needed a high school of its own, and so the school that ultimately
 would become Fort Gay High was established in 1929.

At that time, each of the state’s magisterial districts had its own school board. Fort Gay
 fell under the Butler District. Thus the new school initially was called the Butler
District High School. There was no building for the new high school, so its
 first classes were held in the Holiness Church, Knights of Pythias
 Lodge Hall and the Fort Gay Graded School.

Work immediately started on a building for the new school.
 Completed in 1931, the stone, Beaux-Arts style structure
was designed by Huntington architect Levi J. Dean.
The school opened with 96 students enrolled.

In 1933, West Virginia adopted the county unit school system. The county’s local
school districts were abolished and replaced with county-wide school boards,
 including the Wayne County Board of Education. At the same time, the
district high schools were renamed with the Butler District High
School becoming Fort Gay High School. The school’s
 enrollment steadily grew, so an east wing was added
to the building in 1953 and a west wing in 1957.

But recent decades have seen Wayne County buffeted by economic
 changes that have erased many jobs. As a result, enrollments at
 the county’s schools have dramatically declined. In 1987,
 Fort Gay High School and Crum High School were
consolidated into the new Tolsia High School.
Fort Gay High School closed in 1987,
and Tolsia opened the following year.

After the consolidation, Fort Gay High was used as a middle school
 until it was closed in 1987 and has long sat unused and empty.
 In 2017, the school building was added to the National
Register of Historic Places as part of a local
campaign to preserve the structure.

Currently, the old school is being transformed to house eight
low-income apartments for seniors while housing city
 offices and community spaces on the ground floor.


Note:  This Article and picture appeared in the Herald-Dispatch Newspaper on Feb. 13, 2024.


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