This school was constructed sometime between 1879 and 1886; it was of log construction and cost $50 to build. A one-room frame addition was built in 1935 (the contractor for this addition was Forrest & Roberts of Hillsborough, and it cost approximately $1,000). The school's singular teacher taught up through the seventh grade.
The school was closed after a front-page "expose" was printed in the Durham Morning Herald in January 1948 about the substandard condition of the school.
A more important factor in the school's closing was the 1948 dissertation by UNC student Charles H. Tietjen, titled A Survey of Negro Education in Orange County, North Carolina, that made suggestions regarding how to improve African American schools and their administration and financing (as they were underfunded compared to the white schools) in the county. Luckily, the county school board and especially the superintendent, Glenn T. Proffit, took much of Tietjen's advice. Proffit also included members of the local African American community on school boards, PTAs, and etc. for the first time.
The two-acre school property was sold by the county in February 1949, with the building and the property sold separately.
Exterior and students, 1948 (photo via the Durham Morning Herald)
Interior, 1948 (photo via the Durham Morning Herald)
Virgil "Budge" Johnson, interviewed in 1939 for the Federal Writers' Project, was a former student of the Piney Mountain School. The 1918 soil map of Orange County depicts the school as the "Johnson School."
1949 newspaper notice