Commission seeks funds to restore schoolhouse

Friday, January 21, 2005

When the nearly 150-year-old Head School in Scott City was moved from George Albrecht's farm to Old Illmo last August, something unexpected happened. The tin roof of the historical building caught on a tree and was torn.

Now the Scott City Historical Preservation Commission is trying to raise money to restore it before the weather can further the damage. But replacing the roof is only one of the many repairs needed to bring the structure up to at least good condition.

"Of course the building's old so it has a lot of pieces of wood that are going to need replaced," said Carolyn Pendergrass, chairwoman of the commission. "But we want to keep that which was already there as much as we can."

Four windows in the structure are also broken and in need of replacing. For now, materials have been put over the windows in order to avoid further exposure to the elements.

Before anything else can be done, though, the schoolhouse has to be placed on a foundation.

The schoolhouse has a long history, and to many it stands as a cherished landmark of the community's past -- part of the bedrock of the old railroad town.

Children from the first- through eighth-grade attended the one-room schoolhouse from as far back as 1858 until 1940.

"We have records that go back to about 1868 or so," said Pendergrass, "and we have this wonderful history of the people who went to school there."

Many of them were ancestors of those currently living in Scott City. Pendergrass hopes that when the quick fixes like the roof, windows and a new door are complete, those people can visit the schoolhouse and spread the word.

The eventual goal is a complete and authentic restoration to its old form. Pendergrass is working from a picture taken in the 1920s to recreate the interior.

There has already been some fund raising for the project, making about $2,500, said Pendergrass. But several thousand dollars are needed, and right now it's unclear just how much will be needed to complete restore it.

More fund raisers are on the way, but Pendergrass is also hoping that some private citizens will be willing to donate, as two people already have for $500 each.

"A lot of people see it as an old, ugly building," she said. "I see it as a part of our past. I want to preserve for our children, to give them an opportunity to see what things used to be like."

msanders@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 182

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