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The 2020-2021 school year marks the 150th anniversary of the founding of the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind.


EST. 1870


In 1870, the West Virginia Legislature established the Schools for the Deaf and the Blind in Romney. This followed an offer consisting of the buildings and the grounds of the Romney Literary Society. The first school term began Thursday, September 29, 1870, with an enrollment of twenty-five deaf and five blind students.

Through the years, additional buildings and grounds were added to accommodate the increasing enrollment. Currently the main campus consists of sixteen major buildings situated on 79 acres of land.


The West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind hold a special place in the history of this state, this county and community. The school has been crucial in the economic development of this area, as well as the drawing card for many wonderful individuals and families who have come to call Romney their permanent home.

We are proud that the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind has provided quality educational services to more than four thousand eight hundred children. These schools continue to serve as a residential and day school program, and also offer expanded pre-school services and technical assistance throughout the state.


West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind. Howard Hill Johnson, one of the schools' founders, is seated at left in this faculty and staff portrait from 1884. Also pictured are, standing left to right, Mr. Shaeffer, Superintendent Major John Collins Covell, Abraham D. Hays, and math professor E.L. Chapin. Seated left to right, are H.H. Johnson, J.B. McGann, Lulie Kern, Martha Clelland, Sarah Caruthers, and deaf school principal H.H. Chidester. Photograph courtesy of West Virginia State Archives.

You can read the rest of this article in the Fall 2002 issue of Goldenseal, available in bookstores, libraries or direct from Goldenseal.

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