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Chapel at the reform school in Concord.

Posted by Old House Life - Michelle Bowers on Friday, 24 April 2015
House Tours Preservation

Abandoned: Stonewall Jackson Reform School, Concord, North Carolina

April 24, 2019

The Stonewall Jackson Reform School was opened in 1909. It was also called the Stonewall Jackson Training and Industrial School. It was built with the intention of housing male juvenile delinquents. The school is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Further proof that having that distinction does not protect a building from demolition through neglect.

 

In 1907 legislature was passed to house troubled teens and youth away from adult prisoners. It was considered a very progressive movement and “school”.

This institution has a very sordid past. Sometimes boys were sent there that were accused of truancy or simple shoplifting, and they ended up being abused in horrific manners. I will get more into that later in this article.

 

 

 

At this school they learned trades. They were taught shoemaking, printing, barbering, textiles and they had a machine shop on the premises. There was a farm on the property. Students, or inmates, were taught latest agricultural techniques with the school’s cattle and vegetable gardens.

 

There was a school newspaper that some could work on called ‘The Uplift’. The boys lived in dormitory style houses. Each dormitory had house parents.

I visited this property a few years ago. I was actually filming on the property with a news crew. The feeling I had that day was one of doom and gloom. There is a definite heavy feeling there.

 

We spent the two hour drive to Concord, North Carolina reading every article we could get our hands on. You can find even more information from reading the comment sections of those articles. We were also fortunate that we heard from people that actually lived there or worked on the premises.

 

It seemed the abuse was relegated to certain guards or even a certain decade. We talked to a couple of people that actually enjoyed their time there. Those are few and far between. The rumors of abuse are quite severe.

 

 

I was told as a form of punishment they would have to go outside with spoons. The rain water would puddle on top of large boulders on the property. They would have to stand out there for hours in the rain, no matter what the temperature was, and use spoons to dig out rivets in the boulders. I do not have pictures of that, but we did see it first hand. Up to that point everything was heresy, seeing the hand dug rivets in the boulders was overwhelming.

 

The picture above made us all wonder. Doesn’t it look like a secret set of stairs behind the wall? We kept going outside and trying to figure it out. Was there a separate entrance or some explanation. We could never figure it out.

 

 

Another atrocious historical fact associated with this place is that in the 1940’s after World War II, the state wanted to prohibit “feeblemindedness” and to improve the state’s population pool. Six teenage white boys were sterilized against their will by vasectomy at Stonewall Jackson Reform School. At the time North Carolina had a state eugenics board. It was a board created after the passage of a house bill to sterilize persons that were “mentally defective”.

 

 

There are stories that the buildings are haunted. I can only go by how I felt while there. It has a very sad feeling. Just walking the grounds you can feel it. I don’t know if it’s because we had just spent two hours reading the atrocities that happened there?

 

There is a story that in one of the dorms a dumb-waiter randomly dropped down from the top floor to the bottom floor where the kitchen was located. It instantly killed a woman that worked there. That building was demolished many years ago. I heard from the niece of that woman. She said their family believes it was an evil spirit that did it because there was no explanation for it dropping like it did.

 

I don’t think these buildings will last much longer. These pictures of mine were from a few years ago. They are very strict about trespassers! The interior pictures you see that I took were mostly done from the exterior. I have heard of people being arrested. You can call to get permission till you are blue in the face, they will NOT let anyone enter the buildings. I was there with a television crew and we were denied interior access to the main buildings.

The chapel across the street from the school is quite interesting. Watch the video I attached at the top of this post. That was one building that did not have any “no trespassing” signs on it. The side doors were wide open. Our intention was to just sneak a little look in past the doorway. Then the music started playing.

There is no electricity at the chapel. Where was the music coming from? The song that started playing right as we walked in was ‘Jesus Loves Me’. Can’t explain it.

A local once told me it could have been coming from the church down the street. We were there around noon, I’m used to church bells, not an entire song being played.

A lot of places that I explore, I often wish to go back. This is one place I have no desire to visit again. It was that heavy of a feeling. Like I said earlier in this article, I have heard from people that were sent there and they liked their time. I have heard from others that said it would be a joyful day if they were all demolished. I would be very careful about visiting this location. The police sub-station is right across the street. I have heard the owners will prosecute. Who owns it now? I believe the state does in some capacity, possibly the Department of Correc