The school was originally scheduled to open in 1918. But, the 3-story school building in the center of the Borough of Shenandoah, was appropriated and used as a makeshift hospital and morgue during the 1918 flu epidemic of 1918, when the main local hospital was unable to provide accommodations for the large number of victims. Finally, in 1919 the building was finally dedicated as the new Shenandoah High School. It was later eventually renamed the J.W. Cooper High School in memory of the school's first principal. The school remained open, and in use until 1986.

The building sat abandoned for years, until a local business man purchased the building to preserve it, and help revitalize the community. Fighting an uphill battle and high costs of repair, owner Kent Steinmetz has made significant progress in restoring the sections of the building, and saving it from demolition.
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