About PMSSA National Historic Landmark, Pine Mountain Settlement School was founded in 1913 as a boarding school for mountain children and as a settlement serving the community through economic, health and cultural initiatives. The school was the dream of William Creech Sr., who with his wife Sally, settled on the north side of Pine Mountain in 1870. He recruited Katherine Pettit, a co-founder of Hindman Settlement School in Knott County, to start a similar settlement at Pine Mountain. Uncle William, as he was commonly known, traded some of his land for property owned by a lumber company. This tract, in the valley where the waters of Isaac's Run and Shell Run join to form Greasy Creek, became the site of Pine Mountain Settlement School.
Katherine Pettit enlisted the help of Ethel DeLong, who was principal at Hindman Settlement School, in this new endeavor at Pine Mountain. They asked architect Mary Rockwell of Kansas City to help them with the campus layout and new buildings.
The School was nearly self-sufficient. In addition to classroom facilities, the early School included a working farm with cows, chickens, sheep and hogs, gardens, print shop, sewing room, woodshop, and medical clinic. Folk songs and dances and the traditional skills of spinning and weaving were incorporated into the school curriculum. Before and after classes, students helped with the chores associated with the School's operation.
Pine Mountain served as a boarding school for elementary and middle school students from 1913 to 1930. In 1930, the School evolved into a boarding school for high school students. In 1949, Pine Mountain began a joint venture with the Harlan County school system to operate a community elementary school. With the completion of Green Hills Elementary School in 1972, in nearby Bledsoe, Pine Mountain began to focus its educational mission toward environmental education.
For more than 30 years, Pine Mountain Settlement School has provided instruction in environmental education and traditional arts and culture to thousands of students. More than 3,000 students visit the campus each year to participate in day programs or weeklong programs. Students are introduced to the wonders and complexities of the natural environment through outdoor classes on the School's 800 acres.
Pine Mountain Settlement School is a non-profit institution governed by a Board of Trustees. Pine Mountain's articles of incorporation state that the School "shall be dominated by a Christian spirit and influences, but entirely free of anything of a sectarian or denominational character."