Carr Creek High School once boasted the most storied boy's basketball teams in Kentucky; now its alumni are raising money to preserve the building in Knott County.
One of the more popular ideas under consideration is to open an Eastern Kentucky Basketball Museum in the building, said Margaret Nichols, alumni association vice president.
"We are trying to get the word out that we are doing all we can to preserve this priceless heirloom," said Corbett Mullins, a member of the board of directors of the alumni association.
Mullins said alumni from several schools that are now closed but once had strong basketball programs have volunteered to donate memorabilia.
Never miss a local story.
The building, which housed the school until it closed in 1974, overlooks Carr Creek Lake and would be a good location for a museum, a craft shop and even a restaurant, said Mullins.
Alumni association president Rudean Adams said some people have suggested putting an exercise center at the building, a library or even a bed and breakfast.
But it is the proposed museum that is perhaps capturing the most attention.
According to Herald-Leader archives, the 1928 Carr Creek team had no gym to practice in and, until they received donations, no basketball uniforms, playing in overalls instead. In the 1928 state championship game, Carr Creek took highly touted Ashland to four overtimes before losing. Carr Creek and Ashland were invited to a national high school tournament in Chicago. Ashland won the tournament, but Carr Creek won three games and was featured in several of the nation's newspapers.
Twenty-eight years later, Coach Morton Combs and the Carr Creek Indians won the state tournament.
At the time, "King" Kelly Coleman of Wayland High School was considered one of the top players in the country, averaging 47 points a game as a senior, according to Herald-Leader archives.
At that state tournament, Coleman set records for most points — 68 — in a Sweet Sixteen game; most rebounds — 28 — in a state tournament game; and most points in a four-game state tourney at 185.
But in the semifinals, Carr Creek's Jim Calhoun held Coleman to 28 points.
Carr Creek's Freddie Maggard hit game-winning shots twice in the 1956 tournament.
Maggard said in an interview Thursday that he's "very proud" to be counted among the alumni. He said he thought preserving the school and opening the museum were both good ideas.
Among the items that could be placed in the museum, Adams said, are the 1956 state tournament trophy and some score books, the runner-up 1928 state tournament trophy and the basketball Carr Creek played with in 1928 at the Chicago tournament.
What has always been special about Carr Creek, Adams said, is a sense of unity that led residents to open the high school in the first place.
"There is something about the unity that the people have still yet," said Adams.
He said people all over the United States have ties to Carr Creek High School or have identified with its story.
Students in the area now attend Knott Central High School. The Leslie, Knott, Letcher and Perry Community Action Council, a private, nonprofit corporation, had programs in the building until recently. That group has given the building to the alumni association, said Adams.
Now the alumni association is applying for grants and trying to raise money to match grants. They are asking alumni to make donations. The first order of business is to fix the roof, said Nichols, who is also Letcher circuit court clerk.
Adams said that whatever major project is chosen for the building, it could take three years to come to fruition.
Since January, the association has raised about $5,000, Mullins said.