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Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017

Picturing the Past 76: Wheel School

Posted Tuesday, August 31, 2010, at 9:39 AM

Wheel School in what appears to be the late 1950s, based on the 1954 Ford and 1956 Chevrolet in the photo. (Photo submitted)
Most of the really small country schools in Bedford County were gone by mid-20th century but a few of the larger ones - Normandy, Flat Creek, Pleasant Grove and Wheel - lasted into the 1970s.

Here's one of those, Wheel School, as pictured in what I'd guess was the late 1950s judging by the cars and the gym/cafeteria.

A reunion for all who attended Wheel School is scheduled for noon Saturday at Shiloh United Methodist Church. Those attending should bring a dish for a potluck meal.

The building still stands, although it's been remodeled into a private residence (enter "2572 Tennessee 64 Scenic" on Google Maps for a relatively-current view). The attached gym at left was many years later used as a garage/tire store.

Pleasant Grove and Flat Creek - also still standing and both converted into private residences - along with Wheel were consolidated into today's Liberty School in 1976.

I covered basketball games at those schools during their last season. It was an experience, people crammed into tiny gyms, but the atmosphere and excitement was contagious. Many of those schools' athletes went on to stardom at Shelbyville Central High.

Construction on the building above began in 1939 and the first classes were held in August 1940, according to the contributor who brought the photo.


Here's a photo of the previous Wheel school, from 1938 (actually a clipping from a 1987 Times-Gazette). Note the water bucket and jug in the background. This will also be published in our Sunday print edition with names included. Where was that school?

The gym and cafeteria at the 1940 building were, I'd guess, added in a mid-1950s building program that added the gym and "annex" building at Central, a new South Side School, a new East Bedford School in Wartrace (the pre-integration African-American school there) and gyms at Madison Street in Shelbyville, Community High in Unionville and maybe Flat Creek. At least, all those gyms and buildings appear(ed) to me to be the same vintage with similar designs. All still exist except the Madison Street gym, which was demolished in the 1990s due to termite damage and the land's value as commercial property.

Picturing the Past is featured each Tuesday in this blog, with portions and/or some previously-used material in the print edition of Wednesday's Times-Gazette. Reader contributions are welcome.

Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

When my husband and I were looking at houses in Shelbyville, the Wheel school was for sale and we actually took a look at it. The people who were selling it at the time had started renovating it but it looked like they'd run out of money or just abandoned it.

-- Posted by cfrich on Tue, Aug 31, 2010, at 9:46 AM

Great pictures David, and great memories.

-- Posted by leeiii on Tue, Aug 31, 2010, at 10:17 AM

Hugh Canady owned the building/house in 1993 and the surrounding years using it as his own private residence. My husband Tim Moore ran the tire shop by himself for a few years that was the gym of the school before Hugh picked up and moved suddenly to California without warning. My 2 boys were born at that time and learned how to walk in their walkers in the office in that shop as I helped answer customer phone calls. I enjoyed walking across the highway to visit my 1st grade teacher Mrs. Campbell and her husband Dudley. She was the best teacher ever. :)

-- Posted by AmericanWoman on Tue, Aug 31, 2010, at 6:53 PM

My husband also did all of the vinyl siding work, mowing ect. to the property around 1993.

-- Posted by AmericanWoman on Tue, Aug 31, 2010, at 6:54 PM

I started first grade at Wheel School in 1949 and went my total 8 years there. When I first started, each room was warmed by a coal burning heater and there were no bathrooms just outdoor toilets. My first and second grade was taught by Ms. Bertha Henslee, third grade by Mrs. Martene Clanton, fourth, fifth and sixth with Mrs. Jessie Russell. My seventh and eighth was Mr. Bob Taylor. My daughter went her entire 8 years at Wheel and her freshman year was at the Old High School. Technology is great but a lot can be said for the little country school also. I wouldn't trade my memories for anything.

-- Posted by olderthandirt on Wed, Sep 1, 2010, at 2:01 PM

It seems a shame the remodeling process was not done to save the exterior integrity of the old building. One would never know the current structure is the same as in this picture. I assume it is now rental property from the number of families moving in or out.

-- Posted by reilly on Thu, Sep 2, 2010, at 6:28 AM

Thanks David for publishing the names of the people in the 1938 Wheel School picture. It helped me to find photos of some people from my Neely side of the family.

-- Posted by leeiii on Sun, Sep 5, 2010, at 11:21 AM

wow this school was amezing is this 1950 school

daniel martin

Caravan Insurance Compare

-- Posted by danielmartin343 on Tue, Sep 7, 2010, at 12:42 AM

my mother, dorothy , and uncle- bill prince ought to be in this picture- i know they went to wheel school- i have one of moms school books from there, with her name inside front cover- and other childrens names, also.

i want to see the published picture, with the names, to see if they are in this picture.

-- Posted by grannypeggy9 on Tue, Sep 28, 2010, at 2:49 PM

It a shame that the Old School has been made into a house and apt.It looked better as a Tire Shop / Store.

-- Posted by Wheelbillie on Mon, Sep 9, 2013, at 6:28 PM

I attended Wheel School '49 to '57. Teachers were Miss Bertha, Mrs. Crowell, Mrs. Martene, Mrs. Jessie Russell & Mr. Bob Taylor. Looking forward to hearing from any classmates.

-- Posted by Sandra (White) Whitney on Wed, Nov 13, 2013, at 6:30 PM

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David Melson is a copy editor and staff writer for the Times-Gazette.