City Looks to Buy Former School’s Parking Lot

BENWOOD – The city of Benwood wants to buy the former Union School’s parking lot. Officials will have that chance today as both the school building and its parking lot are set to be auctioned off separately in Marshall County.

The auction of the two parcels of land along Marshall Street in South Benwood is set for 2 p.m. at the Marshall County Courthouse.

“It is up for (sale because of) taxes,” said Benwood Police Chief Frank Longwell. “We don’t want the school, just we want the parking lot. It serves a lot of residents who simply don’t have parking. A lot of residents rely on it. They’ve parked there for over 100 years. City residents use the property, and we want to secure for the future.”

The parking area measures just over an acre, according to Longwell.

The school has been vacant since it was closed in 2003.

The school and its adjacent property was later purchased by Powerless Roofing, which forfeited the property for taxes in 2010, Longwell said.

It was put up for sheriff’s sale then, and not purchased. Both parcels of land now belong to the state of West Virginia.

Longwell said he doesn’t know if anyone is planning to bid on either parcel.

“If somebody is going to buy the building and refurbish it, we’ll work with them on the parking down the road – if we buy the parking lot,” he said.

“I’d just like to see somebody get it and use it. It’s vacant and falling apart.”

The Union School building was constructed in 1913 after Benwood High School was consolidated with McMechen High School. It served as the home of Union High School until 1968, when John Marshall High School opened in Glen Dale.

Union School then became Union Junior High School, and the place where Benwood students in grades 7-9 received instruction until the building’s closure in 2003.

Longwell led efforts to keep the school open in Benwood.

“I went to school there, and all my kids went to school there,” he said.

“We took the school board to the (West Virginia) Supreme Court twice. We fought for 10 years to keep it open. It’s all history now.”