WV School for the Deaf and Blind
The West Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind is located in Romney, West Virginia. It has been providing an education for children since 1870.
The vision/mission of the West Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind is stated as follows: “The West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind will be the center of excellence in the education of deaf, hard of hearing, blind and low vision students so they will achieve success as productive independent members of society…To that end…we provide students a specialized education environment where their unique skills are recognized and valued, they are given opportunities to experience success, and they feel part of a community in which they are encouraged to be lifelong learners.”
In the late 1930s, a new elementary school building was constructed with the assistance of funds from the Public Works Administration (PWA). The building cost about $300,000 (about $4.7 million in today’s dollars), with the state of West Virginia and the PWA contributing about half each.
At the laying of the cornerstone, in May 1938, Percival Hall, President of Gallaudet College in Washington, D.C., stated: “I can assure you that through such wise building and planning as is going on in this school the children who assemble here will forget their handicaps or will overcome them. They will make you proud of the opportunity which has been afforded them in this fine building and this fine school for better, broader, and more successful lives” (The West Virginia Tablet, May 1938). And in October of 1939, the school wrote: “We are happy to announce that the new Primary Unit which was completed last spring is now in use and filled with 138 happy deaf children. This building, costing over $300,000, is without doubt one of the largest and finest in the country, being of brick and concrete beam construction and as fireproof as it can be made” (The West Virginia Tablet, October 31, 1939).
The building was considered state-of-the-art for its time. A 1936-39 West Virginia Board of Control report to the governor indicated that the “Classrooms and auditorium are specially wired for amplification of sound to prosecute auricular training, the latest step in educational methods for the deaf. It is believed this is one of the finest primary buildings in the country.”
Today, the building still stands & serves, solid as a rock, with most of its original architecture intact. It has provided a venue for the education of children for 75 years. Once again, we see how New Deal-era government investment is continuing to pay cultural and educational dividends.
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(1) Website for the West Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind, https://wvsdb2.state.k12.wv.us/pages/WestVirginiaSchools_Deaf_Blind, accessed January 20, 2013. (2) The West Virginia Tablet (the school’s newsletter), editions May 1938 and October 31, 1939. (3) “Twelfth Report of the West Virginia Board of Control, for the period of July 1, 1936 to June 30, 1939.” (4) The Charleston Gazette, July 24, 1938.
Project originally submitted by Brent McKee on January 20, 2013.
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