Constructed in 1951 at a cost of nearly $173,000, Glen Rogers High School was razed earlier this summer after an arsonist’s fire welded the final blow to the crumbling structure. It had been used for storage for just over two decades.
Vandals had also inflicted serious damage to the two-story building.
“We were very sad to have to raze that building, but its age and deterioration made it unsafe,” explained Frank Blackwell, Wyoming County Schools superintendent.
“It was becoming a very serious hazard.
“Eventually, Mother Nature would take over and it would fall in. We didn’t want that to happen. We wanted a supervised demolition, the property cleaned up and grass planted back.
“The building was just beyond saving,” Blackwell emphasized.
Due to an economic downturn and a decreasing population, Glen Rogers High was closed in 1992, along with Herndon High, Coal Mountain Grade, Kopperston Grade and Matheny Grade schools.
The Glen Rogers students were consolidated into Pineville High.
During that final year, there were 206 students enrolled in grades 9 through 12 at Glen Rogers, with 15.5 professional staff members and 2.5 service personnel. The final graduating class included only 43 seniors. Operational costs for that year were nearly $600,000.
The building contained 10 classrooms, a band room, gym and a library. It had no auditorium and students used the cafeteria in the adjacent grade school building.
At the time the school was closed, the student enrollment had dropped until several of the teaching positions had been reduced to half-time.
There was no handicap-accessibility and new state mandates would have required the renovations to address the situation. Additionally, there were fire code violations, asbestos removal and roof replacement to address at a total cost of $175,000, officials estimated.
In its heyday, however, Glen Rogers was a bustling coal town.
Carl Scholz named Glen Rogers in 1919, according to historians. “Glen” was the word for narrow valley; “Rogers” was a nod to Henry Huttleson Rogers, a financial executive and railroad builder who was among those responsible for bringing coal mining to Wyoming County, historians agree.
Rogers had sent Scholz to Wyoming and Raleigh counties. As a result, Glen Rogers became the first major coal mine in Wyoming County, opening in 1921.
High school classes were first offered in the community in 1928 and the first graduating class, in 1929, included two students — Elizabeth Williams and Kelly Barrett.
William Casey Marland (1918-1965) is the only West Virginia governor to come from Wyoming County. He graduated from Glen Rogers High School in 1935, becoming the state’s 24th governor two years after the “new” high school building opened in 1951. Marland served one term, from 1953 until 1957, as governor.
He had previously served as the state’s attorney general, from 1949 until 1952.
An Illinois native, Marland’s family moved to Glen Rogers when he was seven years old; his father was the mine superintendent. After graduating from Glen Rogers High, he attended the University of Alabama and earned his law degree from West Virginia University.
The Glen Rogers Owls took their only West Virginia Boys Basketball championship in 1977, defeating the top-ranked Gauley Bridge Travelers, 69-65, in the Class A division. Tom Brooks was the head coach.
From 1928 until 1992, the school had 20 principals. Two of them served for about 10 years each, James W. Lewis from 1954-65 and Marion D. Brown from 1978-88.
Employment at the mine grew to nearly 1,000 men during the 1930s and 1940s. Coal production was costly for the community, however, with 160 fatalities and four disasters during the mine history. The Nov. 6, 1923 methane gas explosion killed 27 men, making it the worst accident of any kind in Wyoming County history, according to West Virginia Legislative records.
The mine closed in 1960 and the community population steadily declined afterward.
On Feb. 3, 1992, community residents presented a petition, with more than 1,100 names, to the Wyoming County Board of Education to protest closing the school. The board voted, however, on March 10, 1992 to close the school.