Thursday, May 06, 2010

Old Gymnasium in Pembroke, Kentucky

The Physical and Industrial Arts Building in Pembroke (KY) stands along Highway 41, right next to the Minit Mart on the west side of town. The inscription across the top of the building reads, "19-  Physical & Industrial Arts Building -39". I think I've taken a better picture, but I can't find it, so this one will have to do.

I've been curious about the building for a while. When I passed through Pembroke yesterday, I decided to stop and take a closer look. At the right side of the double doors, I found two plaques (pictured at left). They answered my question of whether the building was a government-funded project of the Depression. It was indeed a project of the Public Works Administration.

In the Kentucky New Era archives (viewed via Google news search), I found a little more information about the building's history. On October 14, 1938, the Pembroke superintendent of schools, Mr. L. W. Allen, said he was nearly ready for bids on the construction.  A loan and a grant, $35,000 in total, had been approved by the Federal government, and the old, frame gymnasium had already been torn down to make room for the new one.

The new facility was to contain a manual training (shop) classroom and a home economics classroom. Shop and home economics classes had not previously been offered at Pembroke. However, the biggest room in the structure would be the new gymnasium.

Pembroke's new gym will have a basketball floor measuring 48 by 80 feet, which will probably be the second largest playing space in the county. Hopkinsville has the largest playing floor but county teams have maintained for years the Tigers' gym was entirely too large. The old Pembroke gym, although the scene of several important tournaments, was too small for real offensive play and had only a limited seating capacity and no out-of-bounds arrangements.

Source: "Pembroke to Ask Bids on Project" by staff, Kentucky New Era, October 14, 1938.
The first basketball game in the new gym was scheduled for Friday, October 27, 1939. Pembroke's first and second teams played against Guthrie's first and second teams. Pat McCuiston was the coach of the Pembroke team. I did not find any information on who won the game.

A Halloween carnival was also held that night. The community was invited to come to the new facility and support their school. It was surely an exciting night for the students.

The new building was adjacent to the existing school. In September of 1940, the school building burned, but firefighters managed to save the gym. A newspaper story stated that a new building would be built so close to the gym that they would almost appear to be a single building. I am not sure whether that came to pass. There is an old, brick Pembroke School building located several blocks east of the Physical and Industrial Arts Building. The two buildings are very similar in architecture. That must surely be the new school that was built. Do you know this part of the story?

Pembroke High School was closed at the end of the 1957-1958 school year. Students from Pembroke High  and other rural high schools of the county enrolled in a new school, the newly-formed Christian County High School, in September of 1959.


Lesa said...

I was in the last class to attended Pembroke School in 1972. I remember getting on a bus with a box in my lap that held all of my books and everything that was in my old desk. We road the bus to the "new" school. I was in the 6th grade at the time. I remember how bright and pretty the new building looked. We sat at tables with "cubbies" that slid underneath instead of desk. We finished the year in the new school.

This website is an awesome source of information on Pembroke School.

Genevieve said...

Lesa, moving day must have been an exciting event for the students AND the entire staff. I did not realize that the school south of town on 115 was built in the 1970s. I would have guessed that it was newer than that.

Lesa said...

I feel so old when I think about this being almost 40 years ago! I guess the great part is that I can remember it all like it was last week!

JAB said...

I went to Pembroke School from the years 1965-1968, and in June of 1968 we moved to San Francisco CA. Next door where the minit mart is there used to be an old base ball field. Sometimes if you were strong enough to hit the ball hard you could break the windows high in the wall. That was great fun for a 7th and 8th grader. Coach Keller also made us run up and down the bleachers in the gym if we missed too many free-throw shots practising basket ball. We lived just one block south of Skyline Drive at the time, which was the city limits of Hoptown. So we lived in the county. The day before the last day of school 4 or 5 of us guys decided to walk the RR tracks to Pembroke that morning. What a mistake! We caught the bus home that afternoon. But Mr. Johnson, the school Principal, decided to make an example of us (for next year's students) on the last day of school. The next day he wore our bottoms out with a paddle. You'll never see that happen today! It must have been effective--I still can't sit down even to this day! Thanks for a stroll down memory lane.

rbeatty said...

@ JAB Haha! I got a few paddlings when I was in school, too! :)

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