Last weekend I got severely lost on my way to a baby shower. I’m not sure how these things always happen to me, but on my way to nowheresville (and showing up an hour late to the shower) I found something that made the detour worthwhile: Stonewall Jackson reform school. While I was driving down the road I honestly stopped looking in front of me, transfixed by this collection of condemned dormitories and schoolhouses.
Here’s what I can gather about the place. It was the first juvenile correctional institution in North Carolina, established in 1909. A group called the “Kings Daughters” fought to build it, and the name seems to have been a ploy to get some old confederate soldiers to approve the project. The facility provided an education to the inmates, as well as training them in a trade, such as shoemaking, printing, barbering, textiles and agriculture. The older buildings were condemned in 1994, and are on the National Register of Historic Places. There is still a large juvenile correctional institution on the grounds, surrounded by an impressive 15 ft. fence. On a darker note, boys were often the victims of rape and other violence while imprisoned here, a pretty big activist against rape in prisons was an inmate here. More info.
Unfortunately the sun was setting by the time I was able to get here and take a few pictures, but I plan to return in the morning and get a few more. After my research I’m a little scared of the place; the whole rape history freaks me out, the boys behind the fence who have committed violent crimes freaks me out, and a specific site of vandalism now freaks me out. The King’s Daughters helped establish the institution, and there is a dorm building named after them. The sign says “Daughter’s Cottage” but the first part has been damaged, so I assume the word “Kings” was sawed off, and I suspect Charlotte’s own “Hidden Valley Kings” gang would have done that. So now I’m afraid of gang members hiding out in those buildings.
The site is really interesting, there’s a lot of fun vandalism in rooms, such as a line of chairs in front of a broken-down piano with another pew jamming closed the door. It’s obviously a favorite spot for local kids to scare each other. I found a ouija board made from sharpie and poster board out on the porch.
more to come!