Joined: Jan 2006
Location: Clarksburg, WVa
Industrial School For Boys - Taylor Co
As a youth growing up in WV during the 60s, the worst threat from your parents for misbehaving was, "I'm going to send you to Pruntytown!" The Industrial School for Boys at Pruntytown has a long history, and most of it is quite positive, contrary to popular rumors. Here are a few excerpts from an article by MK Stover in "Wild, Wonderful, West Virginia":
The name Pruntytown is known to most everyone––male and female—born in West Virginia between the years 1900 and 1975. For most, the name does not conjure images of the small, north-central West Virginia town but of its renowned resident institution, the West Virginia Industrial School for Boys. While most state children—but especially boys—grew up hearing rumors of torture and other terrible acts that might befall anyone unlucky enough to be sent to the facility, those who actually spent their formative years there and who worked there tell a different story. From 1907 to 1982, the Industrial School for Boys was a place where struggling youth received the skills, respect, and guidance necessary to become productive citizens.
For several years preceding the creation of the West Virginia Reform School (later named the Industrial School) in the state legislative session of 1889, there was a recognized need for a school to serve the "underprivileged boys" of our state. Prior to the passage of the bill, which was introduced by Senator George C. Price of Mineral County, there was no legal distinction made between adults and juveniles. Offenders, whether criminal or status (a juvenile who commits a crime, such as truancy, that is only a crime because he or she is not an adult), could be treated the same in the judicial system without regard to their age. As a result, the state penitentiary in Moundsville housed both boys and men.
Early in its history, from 1890 to 1907, the West Virginia Industrial School for Boys in Pruntytown, originally named the West Virginia Reform School, earned a statewide reputation as a harshly punitive institution. And, indeed, reliable early reports confirm the use of solitary confinement, shackles, and chains.
Yet from 1907 to 1933, under the compassionate, 26-year tenure of Superintendent H. E. Flesher, the school became a place where residents experienced respect, consistent discipline, vocational training, and love. Though rumors of mistreatment persisted through the years, with parents even threatening their sons with commitment to "Pruntytown" if they misbehaved, several former residents of the school interviewed anonymously for this article told a much different story. For them, the school offered a haven from dysfunctional home lives and a chance for growth and self-improvement that was not otherwise available to them.
Moreover, residents of the Industrial School were made to feel an integral part of a whole. A system of campus interreliance ensured the food production needed for physical sustenance; the respect needed for emotional sustenance; and, ultimately, the chance for each boy to become a man capable of contributing to society.
The West Virginia Industrial School for Boys stood empty from early 1983 until 1985, when it was reopened as a minimum-security correctional facility housing adult male trustees. In 1988, the facility was modified to house female trustees. The Pruntytown Correctional Facility remained co-ed until December 2006, when women were transferred to other facilities. This change provided needed space for male inmates. Currently, there are several inmates at the Pruntytown Correctional Facility who also served time there when it was the West Virginia Industrial School for Boys.
Click here for the entire article : Part 1 Part 2
Historical Marker, located just off Rt 50 south on Rt 250.
View of some of the old buildings on the edge of the Correctional Facility. Since it is a prison (minimum security), photos of the main complex are not allowed. There is a large stone building just ahead about 1/4 mile, and several smaller buildings like this scattered around the campus.