McKinley Trade/Vocational School History
"In November of 1906, manual training as a course of study was first injected into the Wheeling Independent school system, and out of this move was to develop West Virginia's first all-trade school, the McKinley Trade School located in South Wheeling," wrote the Wheeling Register, Dec. 22, 1931. The article related the following story appearing in "The McKinley Craftsman," a publication of the trade school students:
"This phase of education came about largely through the efforts of Dr. C. E. Githens, then superintendent of schools. At the start of the movement Dr. Githens succeeded in getting the endorsement of the majority of the old school board, which at the time was composed of twenty-one members.
"Dr. Calvin Woodward, of St. Louis, who was commissioner of manual training in the United States at that time rendered valuable aid in the formulating of plans for the operation of classes. The late Dr. Woodward is known as 'The Father of Manual Training in the United States.'
"While the majority of school board members were in favor of the movement, there were no funds available at that time. Through the generosity of Mr. Paul Reymann the necessary money was secured and Mr. Edward Fitzgerald of Pittsburgh was employed as teacher.
"The class sessions were held on Saturdays for the pupils of seventh and eighth grades, and Union school was the designated place.
"From this small beginning manual training has grown rapidly and all public schools of the district are equipped. Including in the subjects taught are: Machine shop, sheet metal, wood turning, cabinet work, pottery and drafting.
"Another set forward was the founding of the McKinley Trade School were electricity, auto mechanics, mechanical drafting, welding and printing are the subjects taught. Plans for the establishment of the trade school were also instituted by Dr. C. E. Githens.
"Industrial Arts in the local schools holds a high place in educational standing of the institutions of the state."
McKinley trade school was closed in 1976 as it consolidated with others for the opening of Wheeling Park High School. The building was used as a headquarters and operation center for the maintenance department of Ohio County Schools until 1996. In 1998, it was sold at auction for $1. It has since been demolished.
▶ 17th & Jacob Streets (demolished)
▶ The McKinley Craftsman [Yearbooks: various years from 1940-1966], Wheeling Room, non-circulating, ask for access at the reference desk.
▶ Vertical File: McKinley School, Wheeling Room, non-circulating, ask for access at the reference desk.