Littleton School, 1907-1978, Was A Beloved Place
In February 1906 the town of Littleton had a fire that destroyed most of the business district, including a frame schoolhouse which existed at that time. In 1907 a new brick and stone school building was completed at a cost of around $22,000. The architects were Chapman and Alexander of New Martinsville.
The new school building had four floors, consisting of a basement area and three stories above ground. Until the high school closed in 1945, all grades, first through 12, were taught in the same building. The classrooms for grades one through six were on the second floor, which also contained the principal’s office and the girls’ rest room.
Classrooms for grades seven through 12 occupied the third floor, which also housed a chemistry laboratory and a library/study hail. The building had a cafeteria and a home economics room located on the fourth floor, opposite a large auditorium which could seat more than 500 persons. In addition to school functions, the auditorium was also used as a community movie theater. Movies were shown weekly and included such films as Tarzan and serial westerns.
The gymnasium occupied about half of the basement area, which also contained the heating plant and the boys’ rest room. There were bleachers along an inside wall of the gym. An outside wall had a crow’s nest, which was about eight feet off the floor, where the record keeping officials were stationed. There was no ladder or other means of access to the crow’s nest and officials had to clamber up the wall to get into it.
Instrumental music lessons were given on a balcony which overlooked the street entrance to the building. The building had hot water heat and the radiators were used in winter for drying gloves, coats, and other wearing apparel. The school also had its own water system, independent of the town’s water supply. The basement area had a manually operated brush for cleaning erasers. It took two people to operate this machine and erasers were cleaned about every two weeks.
On the outside of the building there was no playground equipment. The younger students played marbles, mumbly peg, and tag at recess time. The first high school teachers were Guy Montgomery, Hallie Barisford, and D.B. Rogers. The first diplomas were given in the spring of 1912.
Surviving alumni maintain that the high school, which was originally named Clay District High School, was one of the first secondary schools established in Wetzel County. The other high school, Magnolia High, was located in New Martinsville. When Littleton High School was closed in 1945, there were protest demonstrations. The demonstrators carried placards and chanted, “Hang F.A. Bradley from a sour apple tree.”
Bradley was principal of the school at the time. Although he probably had little or nothing to do with the closing, folks needed someone to blame. From that time forward, students were supposed to attend Hundred High School, which had been completed in 1922-23.
Shortly after the closing of Littleton High School, students from that area refused to attend classes at Hundred. School buses arrived empty in Littleton and left the same way. Littleton and Hundred High Schools had been serious athletic rivals for several years. Some students, who later attended Hundred High School and who had been outstanding athletes at Littleton, refused to participate in sports at Hundred.
Grades one through eight remained at Littleton and until 1978, while grades one through six continued to be taught at the school. At that time, Burton Elementary School, Hundred Elementary School, and Littleton School were consolidated into the new Long Drain School.
The Littleton School building, which had been sold to private owners and was being used as a storage facility, exploded and burned on Sept. 10, 1996.