The 1908 Schoolhouse

The Henderson occupies a historically significant local landmark situated on the highest point in Historic Downtown Marion Virginia; a three-story brick structure known as the “1908 Schoolhouse.” The building has housed a high school, elementary school, a library, the school board, a parole office, and the historical society (to name a few) and now it functions as The Wayne C. Henderson School of Appalachian Arts, and is also home to “The Summit” which is a satellite campus for Wythe Community College.

Our first floor once housed The Smyth County School Board, where we now host watercolor classes, painting parties, barn quilt workshops and much more.

Our Helen White Jam room was once a first grade classroom, complete with slate blackboards and a cloak room. Now it has the capacity to seat up to forty students, yet is comfortable enough for individual lessons. It is named after Helen White of Troutdale, Virginia, a talented musician and founder of the region’s Junior Appalachian Musicians programs.

Our Quilting Room still honors the original wood floors, the only first floor studio with original flooring. This room has been organized and supplied with all the accessories needed for a successful studio experience thanks to the donations and expertise of our local Quilt Guild chapter: New Traditions Quilt Guild. They meet Monday from 10am -2pm and anyone is welcomed. 

The second floor of The Henderson was reserved for the older grades. It has also been said that the boys used one stairwell and the girls used the other, they never used the same stairwell. The second floor also housed what was once the gymnasium area and the stage where the children could perform. That auditorium has been restored and can seat up to 80 people. This space is used for small venue performances including storytelling, music, lectures, improv, as well as comedy and theatre. The Summit Center for Higher Education also occupies this second floor, which is an off campus site for Wytheville Community College WCC offers classes and distance learning opportunities for Smyth and Washington Counties.

In the basement of the schoolhouse, there used to be the cafeteria. There has not been too much information revealed about the rest of the space. In part, this space was used to heat the building, the old coal shuttle still exists, although it has since been sealed from the outside of the building. The construction workers talked about the presence of a ghost, we have endearingly named him “Gus” and regard Gus as a former custodian at the school back when it began in the early 1900’s. Gus will only get riled up if he thinks something isn’t being taken care of correctly! He can be heard sweeping the floor at night and every once in a while, you can hear his keys rattle.

The Gerald Anderson Lutherie, which we fondly call “Wayne’s World” is where the cafeteria was said to be situated. Connected to the Lutherie through the east side of the school, is the wood shop. Both of these shops are fully equipped for lutherie, wood turning, wood working, and wood carving.

Also located in the basement is a full pottery studio and our vintage Letterpress Shop: The Burke Print Shop.