|City/Town: • Uniontown|
|Location Class: • Educational|
|Built: • 1925 | Abandoned: • 2000~|
|Historic Designation: • Historic District (2000)|
|Status: • Abandoned • Gutted|
|Photojournalist: • David Bulit|
Table of Contents
Uniontown High School
Uniontown High School was organized in 1892 with Alvin Milton Spessard serving as its president and principal. The school’s board of trustees included Gaston Drake Stollenwerck, R. L. Adain, William Jacob Vaiden, and J. A. Haynesworth.
On February 24, 2000, the Uniontown High School building was added to the National Register of Historic Places as a contributing structure to the Uniontown Historic District, although documents have it listed under the name Uniontown Middle School. Other structures in the historic district include the Hardie-Coleman House and Co-Nita Manor.
The supporting documents state the school building was constructed in 1925 and describe the old high school as a “Large three-story brick school building which is basically divided into [a] five-part plan, banks of five windows found in the second and fourth divisions on all three floors, first and fifth divisions are plain except for the 6/6 windows found on the first floor, two-story five-bay block with flat roof behind low parapet centered on [the] facade in the third division, recessed single leaf entrance in [the] center of [the] block on ground floor level, structure embellished with quoins and stringcourses rear gymnasium addition.” It goes on to include a “contributing secondary building with hipped roof, brick veneer exterior, bands of 6/6 double-hung-sash window, small recessed porch with classical colonettes.“
Robert C. Hatch High School
On July 12, 1925, the cornerstone was laid for the Perry County Training School “for negroes“, as it was reported in The Marion Times-Standard. The Perry County Training School was renamed Robert C. Hatch High School on March 28, 1964, in honor of Dr. Robert C. Hatch.
Dr. Robert Clinton Hatch
Robert Clinton Hatch was born on November 25, 1903, in the small town of Newbern in Hale County and spent much of his childhood on a farm in West Perry County. He graduated from Alabama State College with a bachelor of science degree, a master’s degree in education from Fisk University, and attained his degree of Doctor of Education from Columbia University in New York in 1946.
He began his teaching career at a one-room country school near Marion. Later he served as the principal of the Uniontown District Academy, the Marion Public School for Negroes, the Perry County Training School, and Carver High School in Gadsen. In 1939, he joined the faculty of the Montgomery State Teachers College. He was also the first black employee of the Alabama State Department of Education having been employed in the Division of Negro Education and later served as president of the Alabama State Teachers Association. He died on December 11, 1975.
In August 1977, a new two-story school building was constructed adjacent to the former Perry County Training School building. The school opened on August 29, 1977, with a dedication ceremony featuring speeches by the school’s principal W. F. Carr, Gelston Fox Shaw who served as the Superintendant of Perry County schools, and Robert C. Hatch Jr., professor at Atlanta University and son of the late Robert C. Hatch Sr.
Closure of Uniontown High School
On February 23, 1979, the Perry County Board of Education approved a proposal submitted by the Uniontown Civic League which called for the consolidation of Robert C. Hatch High School and Uniontown High School. David Moore, president of the Civic League, stated that one consolidated high school was more economically efficient and would allow for more funding for completing a planned gymnasium and auditorium at Hatch High School.
Many parents opposed the proposition as R. C. Hatch High School was already overcrowded and claimed the consolidation was an attempt to bring “racial balance” to the school system, which according to them, was impossible. At the time, R. C. Hatch High School’s student body was all black with just around 60 white students enrolled in the 300-student Uniontown High School.
The consolidation moved forward later that year with the old Uniontown High School becoming Uniontown Middle School. Previously, Uniontown High School housed students in grades k-12 and its student body was spread out among Uniontown Elementary, Uniontown Middle, and Robert C. Hatch High Schools. The following year, Perry County allocated “$120,000 to renovate and equip Uniontown Middle School.”
Closure of Uniontown Middle School
Despite the consolidations and cuts to funding across Perry County, its financial issues continued. In order to stay afloat, the county school system used more than $200,000 in federal funds earmarked for nutrition programs to pay overdue bills. In further cost-saving measures, it was announced that Suttle School and Uniontown Middle School would be closed and consolidated. Under the plan, East Perry High School students will be bussed 20 miles to Westside School while students from Suttle School will be moved to East Perry. Uniontown Middle School students will attend either R. C. Hatch High School or Uniontown Elementary School.
Perry County’s school system moved forward, closing down Suttle School but refrained from shutting down Uniontown Middle School. The county also set up a payment plan with the state to pay back the misappropriated $200,000 in federal funds. By the early-2000s though, Uniontown Middle School had closed and the Perry County Board of Education was taking bids on what they considered “surplus property“. The former Uniontown High School building was sold and salvaged for materials, leaving it in the state it is today.
Uniontown Elementary School closed down in 2017. With the closure of these two schools, Robert C. Hatch High School currently serves grades k-12.
The Marion Times-Standard. (July 16, 1925). “The corner stone of the Perry County Training School for negroes…“
The Selma Times-Journal, Jack Ehn. (August 29, 1977). Uniontown school dedicated
The Marion Times-Standard. (February 14, 1946). Columbia Awards Doctor’s Degree To Marion Negro
The Huntsville Mirror. (March 15, 1952). ATA Heads Hold Leadership Conference
The Marion Times-Standard. (March 19, 1964). Uniontown School To Change Name
The Montgomery Advertiser, Andre Coe. (November 22, 2007). ASU opens new forensic science buildingnamed for Hatch
The Selma Times-Journal, Janet Gresham. (April 26, 1979). Uniontown parents oppose school consolidation
The Selma Times-Journal, Janet Gresham. (August 28, 1979). Perry County schools reorganized
The Montgomery Advertiser, Alvin Benn. (February 12, 1985). Perry Co. Parents Protest Plan To Close 2 Schools
The Selma Times-Journal. (January 1, 1986). Perry system ‘moving forward’