High atop a hill overlooking the volunteer fire department in McKee, KY rests the disheveled remains of the once-vibrant Jackson County High School. Barely visible to the neglectful eye of someone unfamiliar with the area, it towers above like a spectator watching the small town below. In Spring and Summer, it is hidden by the blankets of plant life that have chosen to take advantage of its current state of vulnerability and lack of maintenance. This makes for a difficult trek up the hillside to catch a glimpse. Adding to the arduous nature of this journey is the visibility of the stairs leading to the building, as the walkway, unlike its destination, is easily noticeable from the roadway below. Considering that trespassing on this property is discouraged, there is a portion of the hike where one must fight against the Kudzu while quickly scurrying along to avoid being seen by traffic or locals at nearby businesses and homes. It’s no cakewalk, but sometimes a picture is worth more than a thousand words, it’s also worth a little risk.
After reaching the top, you recognize that it is the backside of the building that is seen from town. Around the front of the school building, one is offered openness, a mysterious contradiction to the obstacles faced on the way up. The mood here is eerie. It is just you and the building, but with so much space inside its walls, it seems an inevitability that others would be inside. The hallways inside are easily seen from the various entrances around the property. There is some evidence of vandalism, as is unfortunately expected in these situations, but not to the extent that we are accustomed to. It appears that time has been its worst enemy, along with the elements. Some of the broken windows spew forth masses of the same invasive vines that enshroud the stairs leading to the top. Enjoy the slideshow of Richard’s images below. He captured the atmosphere quite well with these shots.