Many high school and college students aren't interested in history. Even focused studies of families, places and events often don't seem relevant to young people who have so much living in front of them; for them the past is short and they can remember most of what matters to them.
When I was in high school I thought history was about knowing dates and facts. I wasn't persuaded to take it seriously. Only later did I consider, as the Anglo-American poet W. H. Auden said, that history is, strictly speaking, the study of questions; the study of answers belongs to anthropology and sociology. I don't know if Auden accurately characterized the disciplines, but recently I have entertained many questions. Questions about how Athens came to exist, what people and forces came together to create such a place, how it was shaped by major national events such as the war between the states and by local controversies such as the dispute about where the courthouse should be located.
What we have learned from materials contributed about the origins of Athens is summarized below in the first six sections of this division. These sections provide a brief overview of some of the events and circumstances that influenced and shaped the development a community from what was then a wilderness. Athens was fortunate to have attracted early settlers and later families who demonstrated a spirit and committment to work together for the collective benefit of the community. This is reflected in the six sections.
The last two sections, The 20th Century and Reflections, are provided to accomodate information and perspectives provided by site visitors. Site visitors can help answer questions about Athens; all of us who grew up or lived in Athens for a while are historical resources with something to contribute. You may submit information, photographs and personal perspectives for consideration in rounding out the last two sections. Contact us through the link above to help inform our understand of Athens from the early 1900's until now.
Pioneers, Dedication and Controversy
No history of Athens would be complete without including the central role of education in its founding, development, and evolution. Its very name, Athens, is synonymous with education---a specific type of education that focuses on philosophy, literature, mathematics and the arts and sciences as developed in late Classic and Hellenistic Athens Greece. This was contrary to Spartan education which was grounded in war and advanced a particularly brutal style of military training. Renaming Concord Church Athens seems especially fitting given circumstances in southern West Virginia following the Civil War.
Chartered February 28, 1872 as a branch of the West Virginia Normal School, Concord State Normal School first opened for classes May 10, 1875 on the grounds now occupied by the Athens public schools. After 40 years, the Normal School relocated across town to its present campus in Spring of 1912. You may jump to the section on Concord University by clicking here.