Reviving a Landmark

The Alvin C. York Bible School has recently been the recipient of some well needed attention. Although a critical portion of Sgt. York’s legacy of faith, the structure has been in disuse since the late 1970s. However, current park officials have taken it upon themselves to clean up the building and surrounding area, making it more accessible to the public, with the goal of an eventual full restoration.

By Jacob E. Rosenbaum

Though famous worldwide as a war hero, Alvin C. York was much more than an exemplary soldier. Following the recognition of his valiant deeds in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive and subsequent rise to fame, York became a philanthropist, focusing on supporting the people of his native region. While the Alvin C. York Institute stands as a monument to York’s commitment to education, there is another, less known structure that stands as a testament to his life as a man of faith.

Located in Pall Mall, just a couple hundred yards away from Sgt. York’s burial site, the Alvin C. York Bible School is an exceptionally beautiful building. Its exterior is sandstone, very representative of the Upper Cumberland region, and also of the time period during which it was built. The outer facade consists of a stone portico of three arches, and has long served as a backdrop for local photographers. While the building has never officially been closed, the unassuming road signage pointing the way to the structure, as well as the shroud of woodland surrounding it, have kept this hidden gem buried in the Valley of the Three Forks for the last several years.

According to available historical records, the idea to establish a bible school seems to have occurred to Sgt. York sometime during the spring of 1939, when he assigned a special committee of the Alvin C. York Foundation Board of Trust to find a temporary location for religious instruction while funds were raised to construct a permanent facility. During the summer of that same year Sgt. York, his wife Gracie, his mentor Pastor Pile, and two other unnamed people filed to incorporate, formally establishing the Alvin C. York Bible School, Inc. This undertaking was not announced to the public until the following year. Discussing his mission in creating the bible school, Sgt. York said he hoped to “give instruction in the Holy Bible and to teach the fundamental Christian religion as contained therein.” York spent a great deal of the revenue he garnered from the Sgt. York film building the Bible School.

Read the rest of the story in this weeks Fentress Coureir.