BIG STONE GAP, Va. - Of all the six high schools in Wise County that consolidated into new buildings, only Powell Valley was scheduled for demolition.
It sat right in front of the new Union High School and had to go. That demolition has been going on in recent weeks with a bittersweet feeling among former students and the community
Lacie Holmes, the yearbook sponsor at Union High School, snapped the above shot of the jaws of giant demolition machinery taking the last bites of what was the front entrance of Powell Valley High School.
Wednesday, all that's left is crumbled metal and crushed bricks of the old school that saw its first students back in 1959.
For days, former students and neighbors have been passing by and taking shots of what once was, including a former band mom. "[My son] is a Navy musician, and that all started in the bandroom here. I'd sent him a picture when they first tore down the band room down, and now that's when he said, 'See if they're giving away bricks.' He'd just like some kind of commemorative item of the school," Nita Witt told us.
What she sees is sure to bring back memories and sadness for her son, who is stationed in Hawaii.
That sentiment probably holds true for a lot of locals, but memorabilia and facts about the school will live on at the Lonesome Pine Education and Heritage Center in downtown Big Stone Gap.
Facts like, this is not the first time a high school in Big Stone has been demolished to make way for something new. "Big Stone Gap Schol, three sandstone, native sandstone buildings over here, they tore those down and sold the land to a bank for $450,000 a building. They tore them down," Historian Garnett Gilliam said.
Some will say it's just bricks and mortar, and that you can't destroy memories -- but after a generation or two, will folks really care? "The only way they would would be if the parents or the grandparents can start at a younger age and get them interested in coming in," Gilliam says.
After all, it's their history too.