UPDATED: 6-6-2021


Parkersburg's first high school, called the Washington school, was founded in the 1870s in a small frame building at the corner of Seventh and Green streets. The first graduating class, in 1874, consisted of three students--all girls. By 1890, enrollment had grown so much (there were 19 graduating seniors) that the Board of Education allocated funds for a new, much larger building, which was completed the following year at the same location. By 1915 the student body had grown so large that school days had to be divided into ten periods, with kids arriving at different times. To solve the problem, the Board bought a 27-acre plot of swamp land just off Dudley Avenue in 1915, drained it, pounded pilings into the ground and began building a new high school.

This 1909 photo of the Carnegie Library (at the corner of 8th & Green, right) and Parkersburg High was taken from near the bottom of Quincy Hill, looking southwest. Two blocks in the distance, at the corner of 7th & Market, are the Chancellor Hotel and the Union Trust Building.

The first library in Wood County was a private, membership organization located above H.P. Moss Bookstore at 415 Market Street in the 1890s. From there it moved to the City Building at Fifth & Market, then to Parkersburg High School at Seventh & Green. When Andrew Carnegie awarded $34,000 to the Wood County Board of Education to build a public library, this building (above) was built behind the high school at 725 Green St.and opened on Oct. 5, 1905. After leaving the Wood County Board of Education and becoming its own entity in 1967, the library moved to its new, present-day quarters at Emerson & 31st in the early 1970s. The old library building was for many years, until 2010, the Trans-Allegheny Book Store. The red building to the right is the Mt. Zion Baptist Church at Eighth & Clay, one of the city's black churches.


The Carnegie Library and PHS in the early
1920s. Eighth Street is on the right.

(Photo courtesy of Artcraft Studio, 519-521 Market
Street, Parkersburg, WV 26101; (304) 485-5771.)

The former Carnegie Library building, circa 1980.
(Photo by Harry Barnett, courtesy of Dan Kemper.)

Parkersburg High School, built at the northwest corner of Seventh & Green Streets in 1891, is seen here around 1914. The Carnegie Library is visible behind it. This building became Parkersburg Junior High in 1917 when the high school was moved to a new, rural campus on Dudley Avenue, and was later rechristened Washington Junior High. The edifice was razed in 1964 and replaced by the Uptowner Inn (now defunct).

The school in the 1890s.

Looking northwest, around 1910.  


The Washington Jr. High School band stands in front of the school's main doors in 1929.

Washington Jr. High was demolished in 1964.

Photo: Gary Traugh.

"I attended Washington Jr. High from September 1956 to May 1958. It was like an old barn. One day during my second year (eighth grade) we had just begun afternoon class when suddenly we heard a horrible explosion outside the door. The whole building shuddered. The heavy plaster ceiling of almost the entire first floor hallway had collapsed in a cloud of white dust. If it had fallen down only a few minutes earlier, many of us would have been killed or injured. But there's a happy ending: We got the rest of the day off."--Jim Dawson

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