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 school, library, and the historical society in the past and now we have finished our historical renovation and look forward to a creative and wonderful future as The Wayne C. Henderson School of Appalachian Arts!

Fine Arts once housed The Smyth County School Board, it was opened up as one big studio and now, through the acquisition of equipment made possible through The Tobacco Commission, we have working fine art studios, complete with drawing horses, floor easels, and plenty of storage.

Our music 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. We also have a portable speaker system and many amenities that can help facilitate a wonderful learning environment.

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. They meet here in this space every Monday from 10am -2pm and anyone is welcomed. They provide positive energy and their wonderful creativity to our program.

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 exciting and unique partnership with 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 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.