Friday, March 2, 2012
Old Harden Elementary School
The story goes that a teacher of the Old Harden Elementary School could confirm that the building was indeed haunted. In addition to strange, unaccounted for noises observed at night, an apparition had actually been spotted several times! The apparition was believed to be that of former principal, Hattie Harden. The noises, too, were said to have been caused by her. From what I gather, the story was first submitted to WVGhosts by the witnessing teacher, where it was then picked up and passed along on various other websites. Here's a little more information:
Hattie Harden was born in Harrison County on December 23, 1877. She was the daughter of Thomas and Caroline Harden. There is record from Patterson's American Education, Volume 13 that by 1916, Hattie was already the supervisor of elementary education in Salem, WV. Hattie passed away on August 20, 1967. She was 89 years old and her death certificate still listed her profession as teacher. She never married, and never had any children. She is buried in Pleasant Grove Cemetery.
I'm not sure when Harden Elementary school became known by that name, nor when it was built. From the photo I finally found, it appears as if it were a 1920s era school, with a "modern" addition of a style popular anywhere between the 1950s to 1970s. I'm also not exactly sure when the school ceased being a school. The latest date of it being a school I could find was in 2004. It is currently NOT listed on the Harrison County Board of Education site, but is rather currently owned by the Salem United Methodist Church. It has been replaced by Salem Elementary School as the local K-5 school.
According to their website, Salem United Methodist has seemingly done many renovations on the building, in order to get it into shape to meet the needs of their congregation and the community. Among other things, a local Girl Scout troop meets in the building. It is unknown whether or not Hattie still makes an appearance, however. But...it seems that since renovations are one of those things that cause paranormal activity to get stirred up, and the fact that children are still using the building, Hattie might still be watching over her school. As the daughter of an educational professional, I can personally attest to the old adage, "once a teacher, always a teacher."
Photo from Google Street View