The New Straitsville Public School was built during the years 1916-17; the photo above shows it at completion. Back then New Straitsville was a thriving mining community--the birthplace of the United Mine Workers. The famous "Hell's Oven" mine fire would have been at its peak about that time; you could cook eggs on cracks in the sidewalk and the underground fire melted highways and forced the state to rebuild them. In 1884 striking mine workers set fire to the mines and the fire hasn't gone out since; millions of dollars worth of coal have gone up in smoke, despite the construction of firewalls, drilling of air shafts, and implosions performed by the Army Corps of Engineers. Ripley's Believe it or Not did a feature on the New Straitsville mine fire in the 1940's.

We found the abandoned Public School to be remarkably easy to get into; the side facing the playground was unboarded and wide open. All we had to do was slip through glassless windows and we were inside one of the old classrooms.

Lots of stuff was left behind when they shut the school down, including cheesy educational posters and paintings and miscellaneous furniture.

The building is three stories, with the upper levels dedicated to high school and the lower for the lesser grades. I wonder how long the school contained K-12 students; was it ever converted into just an elementary school?

Above you can see the home ec room with all its counters and cabinets and sinks. There wasn't anything in the cabinets.

This is a picture of the cafetieria, with that long thing you slide your tray down while you get mashed potatoes with green gravy. I have to say that I really liked the green gravy.

Above is a shot of the boys' restroom, with the urinals that are set into the floor so you can pee even if you're three feet tall. I forgot to have my girlfriend get some shots of the girls' room.

Another cool feature of the school was the auditorium. It had a stage and a gym floor with rectangular blocks of wood sticking out in places--easy to trip over.

At the top of both flights of stairs is an office of some kind with lots of windows. Principal and assistant principal maybe? At any rate, we had to be very careful with the flashlights on the upper levels because of the number of unboarded windows.

Overall a very interesting place. Lots of lives passed through here. As it turns out, the plans are to convert the building into apartments. It seems structurally sound. Maybe I'll come take a look when they're done with the renovation. I just hope they leave the playground.