|City/Town: • Alma
|Location Class: • School
|Built: • 1924 | Abandoned: • ~1970s
|Status: • Abandoned • Burned Down
|Photojournalist: • Jeff Hodge • Belva Shelton
Alma High School was a WPA project that started around January 1940 and one that the whole town was proud of. It was built to replace the former Alma School that was fifteen years old. The structure was massive for the tiny town and the building was praised by locals. Located on a five-acre tract of land the ten-room structure cost around $50,000 after its completion. With 22 1/2 accredited classes to offer, a classroom for home economics, and a science laboratory. The modern native stone structure was equipped with more than enough for the 150 students that would walk its halls for the next four years. Other features included tiled ceilings, cement/wooden floors and plaster walls.
By the closing of the 1935 school year, the school board felt that repairs and improvements were made to the former building. The work done by the WPA and costing roughly $9,000 is how the building of a waist-high, native rock perimeter wall around the schoolyard came to be. This wall still exists today and adds an element I personally don’t recall seeing in most WPA schools.
The community didn’t just use the facility for educational purposes but also as a sort of community center. Dances, holiday celebrations, plays and more helped bond the community together. So when the news came that the community would have to close their school, it was devastating. Just a decade prior they had shuttered closure by creating a subscription to keep the school open. The school closed around 1946 after a vote came to consolidate the Velma and Alma communities into one school located at Velma.
The acreage including this former Alma High School building and the Alma Grade School that sits next door was put up for auction in 1952. Otto Colvin purchased the land and buildings for just $4,650. He converted the grade school building into a private residence for him and his family and turned the former high school building into an office space to run his business in. And so a new life began for the building as the Alma Telephone Co., it existed as this until approximately the late 1970s.
Now the abandoned Alma High School is left abandoned and neglected, gutted by time. It is owned by a Korean family now who has etched the words “Promised Land” in their native language on the welcome rock posts at the front of the walkway. In recent years it seems it suffered a fire that gutted the entire building leaving it a shell of its former self. The future for Alma School seems to be a slow demise until mother nature reclaims the rock and land as her own.
Gallery Below of Alma School
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