No one is sure exactly what will become of Kentucky School for the Deaf campus. The school is rich in history of Danville and even houses its own museum in one of the buildings. Kentucky School for the Deaf was first established in 1823 and although it is not the first school for the deaf in the United States it is the first state funded school for the deaf. Several books have been written about the history of KSD. The entire book, A Centennial History of the Kentucky School for the Deaf by Charles Paxton, can be viewed online through the Kentuckiana Digital Library.
Another book, published in 1973, is the History of the Kentucky School for the Deaf, 1923-1973, written by James B. Beauchamp and published by the KSD Alumni Association. In the late 70’s and early 80’s Kentucky School for the Deaf was thriving when enrollment reached its high at 440 students. Most of these students lived on campus and only went home once a month. There was a staff of 220 at that time. Today’s enrollment is about 130 students, of which approximately 75 are dorm who live on campus during the week. The remaining are day students bused in from surrounding counties.
Many deaf students who once attended KSD are now mainstreamed into public schools in their home counties. Staff has been cut to 150. KSD has a campus of approximately 166 acres near the center of Danville. Some of this land was declared surplus land by the Kentucky Board of Education several years ago. The proposal was made to reduce campus size to 50 acres and to demolish several buildings. The campus at one time had 14 buildings. These include Argo-McClure Hall, built in 1964. It houses Technology classes for middle and high school students.
Kerr Hall houses high school and middle school classes and Walker Hall is a self contained elementary school. Middleton Hall is the boy’s dormitory while Brady Hall is the girl’s dorm as well as where the infirmary and office are located. Grow Hall is the cafeteria for high school and middle school. Thomas Hall is the high school gymnasium as well as containing the Student Grille, Swimming pool and Athletic offices Jacobs Hall is KSD’s historical museum and is one of the oldest buildings on campus. It is listed as a National historic Landmark (Bill Macentire, Kentucky Landmarks) and shows student dorms and classrooms from the 1850’s.
Because of this it can not be sold or demolished. Beauchamp Hall and Fosdick Hall are empty buildings that once housed boys and girls dorms. Bruce Hall is currently being used as an alternative learning school by the Danville Independent and Boyle County Schools. Barbee Hall has been rented to Danville Independent Schools for offices for several years. Old Lee Hall, facing South Third Street was built in 1958 and used for girls vocational classes. It was razed in 2010. It had sat empty for many years and fallen into disrepair. It had become very much an eyesore to the community but was in such bad shape it could not be renovated.
The newer Lee Hall, facing South Second Street, once housed the middle school. It has sat empty for many years after mold was discovered growing in the basement. Some say the building was cleaned and repairs made to heating and air conditioning system and that the third floor apartments are now used to house dignitaries who visit. But one never sees any activity happening at the building. There was some talk that the building may one day be renovated to use as the elementary school. In 2004 a Master Plan was developed for KSD. The plan recommended the number of buildings be reduced from 17 to seven.
The new campus would include Argo-McClure, Brady, Jacobs, Kerr, Middleton and Thomas halls and a new elementary school would be built at a cost of 6. 5 million. Beauchamp, Fosdick and Grow Halls would be torn down. Barbee, Bruce, Lee, Rogers and Walker Halls, the laundry and power plant and engineers home would be sold and the proceeds used to fund future needs for the campus. Last week Rogers Hall demolition began. Rogers Hall has been closed for many years having been declared unsafe by the state. It was the elementary school gymnasium.
Currently the elementary school does not have a gym and uses a large classroom as its gymnasium. Also last week asbestos was discovered at Grow Hall. Now the middle and high school students are having to walk half a mile to Walker Hall to eat their meals in the cafeteria there. Many are complaining about the long walk in the cold and icy conditions. No one is sure when Grow Hall will reopen. Although the state at one time had money set aside for the building of the new school this has not happened. Now they are looking to save money. A better solution might be to use the newer Brady Hall.
It already contains dorms, classrooms, a large kitchen area, a gymnasium, offices, even an infirmary. It is quite a large building and would easily accommodate the 130 students currently enrolled at KSD. KSD future seems uncertain but there is always hope for a better tomorrow. Works Cited Fosdick, Charles P. Centennial. History of the Kentucky School for the Deaf, Danville, Kentucky. 1923. Web. 8 Feb2011 Hudson, John W. Jr. Special collections-Kentucky School for the Deaf. Grace Daughtery Library. Centre College. 2002. 8 Feb 2011 MacEntire, Bill. Kentucky Landmarks. 2009. 8 Web. 2011.
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