Pine Mountain Settlement School
Burkham School House II 1919-1983

Burkham School House II

Burkham School House II. Before 1965. [burkham_school_011.jpg]

1919 – 1983

TAGS: Mary Sinclair Burkham Memorial School House II, Burkham School House II, Caroline Burkham, reconstructions, oil canvas in assembly hall,

Construction of the Mary Sinclair Burkham Memorial School House II began in 1919 soon after the disastrous fire that destroyed the original Mary Sinclair Burkham School House I in January 1919. The second School House was dedicated in October 1919 but finished in 1920. The money to re-build the School House was again given by Caroline Burkham in memory of her sister Mary Sinclair Burkham. Her original generous donation of $13,712.00 had built the first School House and her second generous donation of $6,000 plus the insurance money of $10,000 from the first School House were nearly sufficient to construct the new building.

Determined that the new structure would not endanger other buildings by being built close to them, the new School House was relocated to a plot of ground some distance from the (old) Laurel House and across Isaac’s Creek from the other classroom buildings. The second structure, which largely modeled the first, was a two-story wooden frame building which contained three large classrooms, two offices, a “library stackroom with 3500 well selected books, reading room, small auditorium, and [a] very adequate high stage, [and] outside toilets.” The construction is described as being “hurried” and the lumber was not properly cured, being described as “green.” Further, the floor of the building rested on the ground in some places and the boggy nature of the site created substantial sagging of structural members and buckling of flooring in later years. The chimney was also inadequate and a fire hazard and in the summer of 1941 the chimney flue was removed and rebuilt “using flue lining which it had not had before.”

In later years, the building underwent a series of reconstructions including the insertion of three steel I-beams to give added support to the second floor of the building. Further, the assembly hall floor on the ground level was shored up and was given new flooring to replace the buckled and heavily oiled boards from the original structure.

In the main assembly hall on the first level there was hung a large oil canvas, approximately 20′ x 20′ in size, that depicted the long view down the Pine Mountain valley. Painted as a team effort by Abby Winch Christensen, Fern Hayes, and Mary Rogers, it was first used as a backdrop for a Fair Day and exhibition held at the University of Kentucky experimental farm station at Quicksand near Manchester, Kentucky.

Behind the large stage were full dressing rooms and a large wardrobe room filled with elegant costumes used in many of the pageants and plays the School produced. Many of the costumes were sewn by the students and many came from donations of clothing to the school.

In 1942 the building and equipment in Burkham School House II were valued at $17,477.00.


In 1983 the School House again burned to the ground. There were no active classes in the building but the Environmental Education program used the building for its programs and the director, Burton Rogers, had moved his office to the building. The loss of the director’s personal papers and many valuable records of the School can never be estimated.

The loss of the building was painful to the many students whose lives had been touched by the excellent teachers whose classes had been held in the structure. The building had come to be a symbol of the settlement school’s educational commitment.

The only remaining evidence of the building today consists of the four stones that were on the face of the school porch. The words engraved on those stones remind us all of the guiding principles that helped to govern the lives of students at Pine Mountain: HUMANITY, TRUTH, HONESTY, SELF-CONTROL. They also cause our guests to stop and ponder. One guest was heard to remark on seeing the stones laid out like so many cemetery markers, ” I wondered where those ideals got buried!” Hopefully, these ideals are not “buried” but live on in the lives of the many who have been educated by Pine Mountain Settlement School.


1919        Constructed
1919        (October) Dedicated
1925-26   Pillared porch was added
1938-39   Big stage was added
1939         Library Reading Room extended
1949         Used for grade-school classes
1950         Housed entire grade school; housed library and high school classes, upper grades and teacher’s offices
1957         Work was done on elementary school library. Later, when high school classes were added, another room was used for the high school library. When grade school classes were moved to Draper, high school classes were held in downstairs rooms, as well as other activities, such as Scouts, clubs, and elections.
1965        Pillars removed
1972        Environmental program and community used the building for dances; various programs used classrooms, e.g., Early Childhood Development; also used for meetings of community organizations.
1983        Carol Urquhart had a music room. Burton Roger’s office moved into a classroom.
1983        November 8th, building totally destroyed by fire.

Gallery: MARY SINCLAIR BURKHAM Memorial School House II

Back To:

See Also:


Mary Sinclair Burkham Memorial School House II

Alt. Title

Burkham School House II




Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Alt. Creator

Mary Rockwell Hook, Architect

Subject Keyword

Burkham School House II ; Mary Sinclair Burkham School House II ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ;

Subject LCSH

Burkham School House II — Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Architecture — Pine Mountain Settlement School.
Pine Mountain Settlement School (Pine Mountain, Ky.) — History.
Harlan County (Ky.) — History.
Historic Buildings — Kentucky — Appalachia.
Rural schools — Kentucky — History.
Schools — Appalachian Region, Southern.

Date Digital

2001-05-27 ; 2013-09-17 ;

Date Original

1919 – 1983


Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY




Collections ; text ; image ;


Original and copies of images/JPG, documents, and correspondence in file folders in filing cabinet


Series 10: Built Environment (Physical Plant)




Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 10: Built Environment (Physical Plant) ; Kentucky Virtual Library collections <> [searchable]
Berea College Southern Appalachian Archives <>
Transylvania College Archives <>
Univ. of KY Appalachian Archives <>
National Historic Landmarks Database <>

Coverage Temporal

1917 –  ;

Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ;


Any display, publication, or public use must credit the Pine Mountain Settlement School. Copyright retained by the creators of certain items in the collection, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.


Caroline Burkham


Core documents, correspondence, writings, and administrative papers about Burkham School House II ; clippings, photographs, books about Burkham School House II ;




“[Identification of Item],” [Collection Name] [Series Number, if applicable]. Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.

Processed By

Helen Hayes Wykle ; Ann Angel Eberhardt ;

Last Updated

2002-07-01 hhw ;  2004-11-30 hhw ; 2013-09-11 hhw ; 2014-05-14 aae ; 2016-11-25 hhw ; 2023-01-01 aae ;



“School House II.” Series 10: Built Environment (Physical Plant). Pine Mountain Settlement School Institutional Papers. Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY.. Archival material.

Leave a Reply