LOWELL - A one-room schoolhouse dismantled and relocated to Buell Island by volunteers in the 1990s is in need of help again.
The more-than-150-year-old Strait Run School sustained significant damage to its roof and more when a tree split and fell onto it during the powerful windstorm that ripped through the area on June 29.
"It hit with such force that it just moved the whole building," said Washington County Commissioner Steve Weber.
EVAN BEVINS The Marietta Times
Washington County Commissioner Steve Weber picks up books in the Strait Run School building on Buell Island. The restored one-room schoolhouse sustained extensive damage when a tree fell on it during the June 29 derecho windstorm.
Weber was approached about doing something with the building in 1989 when he was serving as president of the Washington County Historical Society. Eventually, he took the lead on a project to take it apart and reassemble it on Buell Island, to serve as a small historical attraction for visitors to the park and school field trips.
The upper portion of the tree that fell on the school broke through the slate roof and caused the building to shift noticeably on its foundation. Windows were broken, and water is now standing on the floor.
"If we don't close it up and get it sealed up to keep the water out, it's going to get a lot worse than it is now," Weber said.
Strait Run School
- 1859 - Strait Run School was built on Adams Township 118.
- 1925 - The building was closed as a school and used for farm storage.
- 1996 - Volunteers began dismantling the building to rebuild it on Buell Island in Lowell.
- 1999 - The refurbished school building was dedicated during Lowell's Octoberfest.
- 2012 - The building's roof was damaged and the structure shifted on its foundation when a tree fell as a result of the June 29 derecho windstorm.
Source: Times research.
Weber said he's working to get plastic over the windows and a tarp to cover the school for the winter.
As for repairs, the building is covered by the Village of Lowell's insurance. But Weber said the insurer is only offering about $14,000, which he doesn't think will cover all the work that needs to be done.
"We might have to have some fundraisers," he said.
The restoration and relocation of the building was paid for in the late '90s with a $5,500 Marietta Community Foundation grant and between $8,500 and $9,000 in contributions from the community. The building is owned by a Lowell Historical Society formed specifically for the project. If that organization went away, Weber said the building would probably become the village's responsibility. But they're facing financial issues of their own and would not be able to repair the structure, he said.
Lowell resident Earl Smith, 81, helped Weber do a lot of the restoration work on the schoolhouse once it was taken apart and moved. He said he would like to see the structure preserved.
"We put a lot of hours in there doing that and (I) kind of hate to see it just go to nothing," he said.
Smith used to give tours of the building to local students, sharing with them his own experiences as a student for three years in the one-room Rayley School.
"They're more interested in using those old slate pencils and trying to write on the slate boards" than hearing about the history, he laughed, but he felt the students still learned something from the trips.
The schoolhouse is furnished with 18 relatively modern desks that sat in Waterford High School decades ago, as well as three desks from the original Strait Run School, donated by former students, Weber said. In addition, scale models built by Weber's uncle in the 1970s of local covered bridges were on display.
Weber wants to see the building repaired because it's a part of the area's history. He noted Adams Township alone once had 15 one-room schools.
"Seemed like every place four or five families had farms, they'd pick a spot and build one," he said.
Weber said any fundraising efforts likely wouldn't start until the spring, but anyone interesting in helping out can contact him at 896-2838.