GMS History The History of Greenbrier Military School

GREENBRIER MILITARY SCHOOL 1875-1972 Louise Rawl Haberfeld Greenbrier Military School (GMS) was a respected boys’ military boarding school for two-thirds of the twentieth century. From 1910 until it closed in 1972, it bore the imprint of the Moore family of Lewisburg. H.B. Moore and his two brothers, J.M. and D.T., bought the property from the Greenbrier Presbytery in 1920. The school was a vibrant, thriving, growing institution until the late 1960s, when new enrollments began to outnumber returning old cadets. It educated around 350 boys a year from the seventh grade through a post-graduate year after high school and, for a time, through two years of junior college. Local boys and, in the early days, all the Moore children attended as day students. Boarding cadets came from West Virginia and the neighboring states of Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. Some years, particularly the war years of the 1940s, saw many boys from Latin America and Cuba. GMS was an accredited member of the Virginias Military Schools League, the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, and the National Association of Military Schools (GMS 1971-72 Catalog, p. 2). Its students were active in local churches and brought revenue into the town’s shops and businesses. Its graduates served in the Armed Forces, fought in wars and died for their country. As athletes and scholars, cadets graduated from colleges and universities and went on to become responsible citizens and community leaders. GMS property covered the hills on the northeast end of town, while the columned edifice of Greenbrier College for Women dominated the western end. The short valley in between was split by Washington Street, which followed U.S. Route 60 east-west. GMS fronted Lee Street (north-south, parallel to Jefferson Street); Greenbrier College was on Church Street (north-south) across from the Old Stone Presbyterian Church. Dr. John McElhenney, pastor of the Old Stone Church from 1808-1870, was a great educator who founded a coeducational academy that was chartered by the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1812 (Montgomery, 1983, p. 146). This is considered the birth date of both GMS and Greenbrier College. The process of education in Lewisburg, Virginia, was interrupted from 1860-65. John McClanahan, who once owned 1000 acres in the corridor from Washington Street through the north end of Lee Street, sold some land to William Spotts. In 1856, Spotts sold several acres to the Greenbrier Agricultural Society for the Fair Grounds. These Old Fair Grounds were the flat lands just behind where the GMS barracks would be