Olive Hill High School

The Olive Hill High School is located in Olive Hill, Kentucky and was constructed in 1929 1 on an overlook of downtown. It was accessible from 103 stone steps that were constructed by the local chapter of the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s.1 The high school was closed in the 1970s when a new facility was constructed on the outskirts of town and the building was repurposed as an elementary school.

In 1990, the Kentucky Education Reform Act was passed that provided school districts with increased funding.2 Many districts, full from an influx of cash, opted to abandoned their old facilities in favor of newer, bigger buildings on larger pieces of land in more rural settings. As a result, the Olive Hill elementary school constructed a new structure and moved to the outskirts of the city in 1994,2 abandoning the historic property in the downtown. Unfortunately, much of the school was stripped of its interior finish, light fixtures, fuse boxes, and toilets in order to save money on the construction of the new facility 1; it had also received very little to no maintenance prior to the school’s closure. In December 1998,1 the former high school was purchased by Jim Short, the mayor of Olive Hill for $10,000 on his personal Visa Gold credit card.2 The mayor, in turn, sold the building to the Olive Hill Historical Society for $11,000,2 which covered his personal expenses and interest payments.

The current plan is to reuse the former school as a community center, museum, senior citizen wellness center and as a community theater. The project has proven to be quite difficult, since the building had been unmaintained for a number of years.1 Repairs to the building include window repair or replacement, electrical work, HVAC installation, upgrades to the plumbing system, and interior repairs. The cost of the project, estimated to be $1.4 million, was stimulated with $400,000 that was raised through fund-raisers and federal funding.2

Digest

  • Name: Olive Hill High School
  • Location: Olive Hill, Kentucky
  • Years of Significance: 1929
  • Status: Closed

Sources

  1. “Kentucky’s Historic Schools Initiative.” Olive Hill High School. KYHeritage Council, May 5, 2003. May 30, 2007 Article.
  2. Poynter, Chris. “Lessons in redevelopment; former schools given new life in Kentucky.” Courier-Journal (Louisville), Dec. 16, 2002. May 30, 2007.