Disclaimer: I do not promote trespassing on grounds that is off limits to the public. If you wish to visit an abandoned place, for your safety, please reach out to the property owners to gain access. If you don’t, I am not held accountable for the fines or injuries that may occur.
As you make your way across Pennsylvania, you start to see more and more rural areas and small towns. A good portion of those small towns may seem like ghost towns, but I assure you citizens live there. A dozen of these towns were coal mining towns, and after the demand dried up, the towns did too. Some towns managed to thrive in the aftermath, while others seem stuck in the past with no way of getting out.
Tucked between the towns of Tamaqua and Centralia is a little town known as Shenandoah. With a population of about 5,000 people, Shenandoah is a town that features both run down parts and potential to thrive in others. While driving through, I noticed that many homes were recently torched with the side of a house spray painted ‘This needs to stop’. I wasn’t sure the specifics on this, but I assumed it was a local pyro. An interesting spectacle to see.
Shenandoah is a quiet town, but like any town, probably has much to offer. My reason for being here was for J.W. Cooper School, which to me is plenty to offer. With permission from the owner, and a small donation, I had free reign to photograph anywhere I’d like on the grounds. The owner, Kent, is trying to restore the school into a community center, which he has already made great strides in doing so. From the inside it might not seem that way, but from the outside the structure still holds.
The school for me was like Eastern State Penitentiary, a great place to roam around and capture amazing photos. Unfortunately there isn’t a guided tour like Eastern State, but still an enjoyable place to visit. The school has everything from classrooms, gym, auditorium, basement, pool, and offices. Sadly no cafeteria, for my guess that was torn down, but I am unsure.
J.W. Cooper School has a history, from being built in 1918 to being used as a hospital and morgue, the building would then become a school until 1986. Nothing too scary about the school, thrill seekers should seek elsewhere. However, if you wish to visit the school with permission from the owner, do so by visiting the address below. Please don’t break into this place, the owner is willing to work with you and for people that love urban exploring, this place is great with the no fear of getting caught.