WEST WIND

Pine Mountain Settlement School
Series 10: Built Environment (Physical Plant)

TAGS: West Wind, Girls’ House, Mary Rockwell Hook, architects, Pole House, construction, dormitories, PMSS Board of Trustees, Creech Memorial Hospital, H.R.S. Benjamin, Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant, Department of Local Government, remodeling, archival storage, Alpha Sigma Tau volunteers


West Wind, 1941 – present

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West Wind. Under construction, 1941. Architect: Mary Rockwell Hook. [hook_039_mod.jpg]

Mary Rockwell Hook, architect for Pine Mountain Settlement School wrote in 1940, to Board member, Mrs. Gratz about plans for a new dormitory on the former site of Pole House. She said of the west facing view

“The site is by far the most gorgeous one we have. We really should add a top floor for guests. No guest would ever forget that spot. The Design of the house has got to fit the hilltop, conform with the past and bow to the future and be very inexpensive, without looking ‘Sears and Roebuck.’ This all presents quite a problem.”

Construction on what was to be called “West Wind” began in 1941. The new dormitory was constructed late in the building scheme of the boarding school according to notes and plans drawn up by the School’s architect Mary Rockwell Hook.

Conceived several years in advance of its construction date, the building was expected to reduce the increasing load on dormitory space and provide more adequate housing for girls on campus. It was also designed to include additional facilities, such as a laundry and kitchen, to serve the occupants of the building on site. The added service facilities were expected to ease pressure on the central laundry and kitchen at Laurel House.

Mary Rockwell Hook in planning for the new building wrote to Mrs. Gratz, president of the Board of Trustees on August 4, 1940, and at the time and said

My impression was that we were urged to press ahead in order to house the girls who were burned out [1939 Laurel House fire that destroyed quarters for many girls]. In looking for foundation for this impression, I find, in Mrs. Elsmith’s report the following: Although the Board made no commitment in writing, it seemed the sense coming to us at this critical time funds, free to use for building purpose as expressed by the legatees, some $65,000 might be so delegated, if necessary. This would place approximately a hundred thousand dollars into the endowment fund.

It was, I believe, the further sense of the meeting that $5000 of this might be alloted to necessary repairs and improvements. Those have been itemized above, including the Doctor’s house for which the Executive Committee authorized up to $15000, would, it is estimated, come within this amount. 

It is hoped and estimated that Laurel House can be built, exclusive of equipment, for $35,000, and the Girl’s House (West Wind), for $15,000. This leaves a leeway of $10,000. Funds that are coming in are being set aside for a special furnishing fund. It is hoped that the friends of the school will want to give individual items.

If the Executive Committee does now wish to give us authorization to go ahead, in writing, I would like to have a little further instruction from them.

As I wrote you, Mr. Terney (Hook’s associate architect) and I have designed a house, incorporating as nearly as possible the requirements given us.

This can be as nearly fireproof as possible, throughout, or it can have a ground floor of stone, with concrete slab over the entire first floor (2nd-floor work) or it can be built entirely of wood.

I would like to know the feeling of the Exec. Committee on the matter of materials and of fireproofing. Or, if the most important thing to consider is to keep within the $15,000.

 Then there is the matter of beauty and that sometimes costs a little more. 

The site is by far the most gorgeous one we have. ….

Pole House, building removed to build West Wind. Mariam Kingman and Angela Melville. [ kingman_056a.jpg]

Construction began in 1941 on the same site as Pole House, which was removed due to its deteriorated condition and limited usefulness as a rustic guest house. The new building was completed and dedicated in June 1942. At its completion West Wind and its equipment were valued at $31,763.00, making it one of the most expensive buildings on the School grounds.

In its original configuration, It was a three-story frame building with a flat roof. The ground floor was of stone and the upper two stories were framed wood construction. Typical of the time, the coal room and the furnace rooms were concrete vaults to accommodate the coal furnace. Just a few short years after construction, the roof of the building proved to be unsatisfactory due to leaks and maintenance and, like that of Draper Industrial Building, the roof was removed and a gabled roof was installed on the building.

On July 2, 1948, H.R.S. Benjamin wrote of the progress on the restructuring of the third story. He noted

West Wind repairs are going along fine. We have the roof completed, as I stated earlier, we have the siding on and are now beginning the second coat of paint for this building. The closets are being built in the new rooms today, the wallboard is here to put on soon, all flooring is down, wiring is installed, attic is completed.

Other upgrades came along when the building was converted into a hospital and named the Creech Memorial Hospital after the boarding school closed in 1949.

The interior of the building is comprised of twenty-two rooms that were designed to accommodate twenty-six students and four workers. One single room is described in the original plan, as planned to accommodate ten guests. A large living room on the second story has built-in benches and a fireplace that are reminiscent of the Usonion structures of Frank Lloyd Wright. The 1941 description noted that there were “adequate bathrooms” and “laundries” and a kitchen and that it was “well lighted.”

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West Wind interior, main living room, second floor, facing west. [P1040420.jpg]

Today the building is the central residence for large groups of visitors to campus. It is frequently occupied through the year by school groups brought to campus for extended Environmental Education classes. The west facing façade provides one of the most pleasing long views of the Pine Mountain Valley.

In November of 2018 final approval of an Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant for remodelling of West Wind bathrooms, brought Commissioner Sandy Dunahoo and her staff of the Department of Local Government to Pine Mountain to celebrate the release of funds to begin the remodel and interior improvements to the bathrooms throughout the West Wind building.

As one of the most used facilities at the School, West Wind has not had an upgrade of bathrooms since c. 1949 and the need for appropriate facilities for visitors to campus had reached a critical point. Construction began in December 2018.

GALLERY: Visit of Sandy Dunahoo, Commissioner of the Department for Local Government of Kentucky

CELEBRATING THE RELEASE OF FUNDS IN ARC GRANT FOR REMODEL OF WEST WIND

GALLERY: West Wind

In the 1990s remodeling was intended to weatherize the building which receives considerable sun and wind exposure on the west-facing site. New aluminum siding was added, as well as replacement of original windows with thermal-paned storm windows. The energy use of the building was reduced and the building was better prepared to handle large groups during cool weather.

Work continues on this building and others on the campus and the generous assistance of donors and of volunteers has been invaluable in saving the built environment of the more than 100 year-old institution and its records. A note on the archival records once housed at West Wind follows.


WEST WIND: ARCHIVAL STORAGE

The lower floor of West Wind for a time provided two rooms to store archival materials of enduring value to the institution. The materials in these two rooms have been shifted several times since 2000 and the accumulated piles of financial and administrative office records have been separated from the materials that are more archival in nature and not scheduled for disposition. The archival holdings were given their own location having joined unaccessioned materials gathered from Director’s files and were located in a room on the east side of the basement hallway. These included the records assembled for the 1983 Berea microfilm project as well as files for Directors Uruquarts, Paul Hayes, Burton Rogers, Alvin Boggs, Robin Lambert, and Milly Mahoney. The following is a GALLERY of images that capture the storage space of both collections and include images before cleanup and after.

Following the re-housing of the collections in West Wind, the materials were then moved to the Library (Boy’s House) in 2017 where they joined the archival material removed from the main Office building and the collections of the Pine Mountain Room, established by Mary Rogers in Boy’s House.

Group photographs are of Alpha Sigma Tau volunteers who assisted with the cleanup of the archival space in West Wind in 2014 and 2015. The assistance of the sorority, long a friend of Pine Mountain and one of its philanthropies, was critical in saving the deteriorating holdings.

GALLERY: West Wind

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Title

West Wind

Alt. Title

Dormitory for Girls ; Creech Memorial Hospital ; Guest House ;

Identifier

WEST WIND

Creator

Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Alt. Creator

Planned by Mary Rockwell Hook, architect

Subject Keyword

West Wind ; Pine Mountain Settlement School ; boarding schools ; building plans ; Mary Rockwell Hook ; dormitories ; laundries ; kitchens ; Laurel House ; Pole House ; guest houses ; stone foundations ; framed wood construction ; coal rooms ; furnace rooms ; concrete vaults ; coal furnaces ; Draper industrial Building ; gabled roofs ; hospitals ; Creech Memorial Hospital ; students ; workers ; living rooms ; fireplaces ; bathrooms ; visitors ; school groups ; Environmental Education ; Pine Mountain valley ; Aryshires ; awnings ; remodeling ; weatherizing ; aluminum siding ; storm windows ; energy usage ; Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ;

Subject LCSH

West Wind — 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

2014-03-16

Publisher

Pine Mountain Settlement School, Pine Mountain, KY

Contributor

n/a

Type

Collections ; text ; JPG images ;

Format

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

Source

Series 10: Built Environment (Physical Plant)

Language

English

Relation

Is related to: Pine Mountain Settlement School Collections, Series 10: Built Environment (Physical Plant) ; Kentucky Virtual Library collections <http://www.kyvl.org/> [searchable]
Berea College Southern Appalachian Archives <http://www.berea.edu/library/Special/saarchives.html>
Transylvania College Archives <http://www.transy.edu/academics/library>
Univ. of KY Appalachian Archives <http://libraries.uky.edu/libpage.php?lweb_id=84&llib_id=13>
National Historic Landmarks Database <https://www.nps.gov/subjects/nationalregister/database-research.htm>

Coverage Temporal

1941 – present

Coverage Spatial

Pine Mountain, KY ; Harlan County, KY ;

Rights

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.

Donor

n/a

Description

Core documents, correspondence, writings, and administrative papers about West Wind ; clippings, photographs, books about West Wind ;

Acquisition

Constructed 1941 – 1942

Citation

“[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

2014-03-16 hhw ; 2014-05-21 aae ; 2018-10-18 aae; 2019-01-01 hhw; 2019-07-12 aae ;

Bibliography

Source

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

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