Snowball School and Gym

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City/Town: Snowball
Location Class: School
Year Built: 1938
Year Abandoned: 1970's, 2007
Status: Demolished
Photographer: Michael SchwarzEddy Sisson

Originally named Calf Creek, the town of Snowball, Arkansas was founded in the early 1800s. After the entire downtown area was destroyed by a steam engine explosion in 1879, a newly built Masonic lodge was purchased by the town and named after the County Sheriff Bill Snow. This served not only as a lodge but also as a school and the church.

1425461_221406898031277_571467269_oSeveral years after the newly named town Snowball, Arkansas was founded, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) built a brand-new school building for the children of Snowball in 1938. This school served 1st through 12th grade, and the students were transported to and from the school by one bus. The  building had a wood interior, with a wooden stove in the back to heat the school during winter. The outside of the building was a stone similar to that the Masonic lodge. In the 1970s enrollment declined to approximately 30 students. This resulted in the consolidation with the Marshall school district; the Snowball school was then left abandoned. Severe weather and yearly floods condemned the school, and shortly after the old school caught fire in the 80s. Luckily the stone facade of the old school remains.

The gym sits right next to the remains of the old school, and was built several years after the school. After the gym’s closing in the late 1970s, the town reopened it as a Civic Center in 1982, where they would host several events a year including haunted houses. The last haunted house was held in the late 2000s. Shortly after the gym closed once again.

The gym now has a warped floor, dusty and empty bleachers, haunted house remains and untold stories.

32 Comments

  1. My name is jimmy brown I'm wanting information about the snow ball gym I'm starting a non profit called chariotsforchildren.com and want to use and fix the gym back to it's glory days. Any info greatly appreciated! I've done some digging around no one seems to know who is in charge.

  2. It is sad. There are so many places that are just falling apart now, they aren't being used or we don't have the money to fix them.

  3. Arthur Dewey Kimbrell was the teacher at the school for a long time. He may have been the only one there at the time, He never mentioned anybody else. He had a lot of stories about people that were students there. Wish he had recorded them.

  4. Of all the places "Abandoned AR" features, it's the schools that always make me sad. I grew up going to a HUGE school, (about 500 in my graduating class). When i see these small schools, it always makes me wonder what it would've been like to go to a small school, where everyone knew every body. It makes me feel nostalgic for something I've never even experienced.

  5. Attended school at Snowball in the 1940's. That is when there were three stores and a Post Office in Snowball. Taylor Campbell repaired shoes; we didn't buy new ones. Shoes were rationed at that time; two pairs each year, I think. Goodness, how times have changed!

    • Hello Mildred,
      I am writing a book on Mayors of Sheridan Wyoming. David A. Ruff was born in Snowball in 1891. his family lived there many years if the Taylor Campbell was an old man at that time he was most likely Mr. Ruff's brother. do you remember the name Ruff in Snowball?

  6. I played 2 games at the Snowball gym. One in the 1956-57 season and again in the 57-58 school year. I think these were the first 2 seasons of home games.

  7. regina hendrix on

    We had our family reunion there until someone took over and took out the windows It became unfit to use. It breaks my heart to see it destroyed.

  8. I never heard of Michael Schwartz, befre he posted all these pictures. Who are you trying to help? What exactly is abandoned Arkansas? If you wish to support the renovations of the gym in Snowball, or give a donation, or offer help in some way we are open to your help. If you did this to tell every one in the world what is in there then I would say we did not need your help. We are a very small community, Rural community. The have taken our Post Office, School, and voting precinct away. All we have left are a few
    people who love this area and want to live here. Mr. Schwartz, we could use any and all donations of money or help in receiving a grant for use on these buildings if you can help , if not please don’t go telling everyone these are just abandoned. You don’t know what you are talking about. These grounds are used by area residents, including taking sick people out by helicopter.

    • They are just trying to preserve history. They respect these places and value the stories behind them. Their idea is to document these places before something bad (fires, demolition, vandalism) happens. This has interesting history and I'm glad they covered it! They don't just go around saying "Oh look at these cool abandoned places." I'm sure they will help advertise your project.

      • If they want to preserve this building they are going about it wrong. Help us acquire money to fix it .
        This is a small populated area. We are not rich. we don't have the funds to go to your community and find an abandoned building and put it on the internet.

        • AbandonedAR Team on

          Hi Anna, please understand we don't have a lot of money either. Our goals are to help document these places and if there are any efforts to restore the building, we do what we can to help. We would be happy to add a link to your project. Please give us a call (405)650-0005.

    • The school building burned in Sept. 1986, later the Twin Lakes Fox & wolf Hunters Assoc. with funds donated by the Snowball Civic Club built the standing pavilion. The quit having their hunts in Snowball and the Snowball Civic Club quit meeting, there were a small amount of money left in the funds, and
      with the help of the SDM Fire Dept. and 2 former members of the Civic Club built a helicopter pad, and applied for and received a matching grant to put concrete in the floor of the pavilion. If we can get enough money together we would like to improve the facilities and have a restroom.
      If you'd like to contribute you may contact Anna Horton / annasusie@yahoo.com.

  9. Snowball actually had school thru 1978s graduation and then closed instead of consolidating so in fall of 78 the kids had the choice of marshall or witts springs schools to attend and both schools ran a bus route from snowball

  10. The school building actually burned down in the 80's. I was on the phone calling volunteer firefighters, I could hear the crackle on the line as the phone lined burned at the building and then went dead. a sad day for our community. My husband and his brother went there except his youngest brother finished at Marshall. I went there with my brother and sister until I married and they moved.

  11. Oh yes! My daddy & his many brothers and sisters went to school there! As a matter of fact–his senior year 1954-they consolidated the high school with Marshall. Tomorrow night they are having their 60th MHS Class Reunion. He'll be the cutest there!

    • The consolidation in 1954 took only the Dongola part of the school. The entire High School did not consolidate. From Lon Elliotts east went to Marshall. Before that the kids from that area came to Snowball.

    • Correct: This story is in the "Recipes and Reflections of Snowball, Arkansas" cookbook.
      The founding fathers had requested a change of the post office name from "Calf Creek" to
      "Snow Hall" when the papers came back the name was changed to "Snowball". For the entire story see the book.

  12. Launa Simmons on

    The condition of this gym HURTS MY HEART! One of those plaques is dated 2007. In seven short years this gym has deteriorated to this point. It shows how QUICKLY this can happen! Our gym at Langley was well on it's way to this condition but we got ahold of it 3 years ago and it's now back in community service. Folks, GET AHOLD of your history before it's too late!

    • We would love to fix up the old gym. But, it takes money. We unfortunately, don't have the funds to do this if you and others who are interested would like to donate we will gladly work on the gym. We have been trying to get a grant, but that takes 50/50 match. We have made this cookbook to have some money to use on the grounds, pavilion, and gym. If you'd like to help us buy a cookbook. Or make a donation. Thanks '

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