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Old school gets first of many upgrades

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POSTED: June 22, 2009 9:23 a.m.
Phgoto by Patty Leon/

The former Dorchester Consolidated School recently got a new roof as part of a restoration project.

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The former Dorchester Consolidated School in Midway recently got a new tin roof and interior upgrades — the first steps in a restoration planned for the structure, which is now the Dorchester Civic Center.
Last Saturday, the Dorchester Civic Center Inc., the 501(c)3 nonprofit organization working to restore the building, had an open house, allowing the community to see the progress and learn about the improvements still ahead.
It was also the first time in many years community members got a glimpse inside the old building, which still houses several old school desks, chalk boards, furniture and memorabilia.
The history of the school dates back to 1927 when Gay Green of North Carolina, deeded 10 acres to the Dorchester Consolidated School District. The Liberty County Board of education built the school the same year and used it to consolidate the schools at Sunbury, Colonels Island, Riceboro and Jackson Chapel. The original structure burned and was rebuilt in 1938. The school closed in the late 1940s and the Liberty County Board of Education sold the property to the Dorchester Civic Center, Inc. for $10 on Feb. 4, 1958. It was used as a community and civic center for dances, socials and a meeting place for the local Lions Club and Dorchester Presbyterian Church.
The years took their toll and the building fell into disrepair, evenutally closing after beeing deemed unsafe.
Barbara Martin is the current president of the Dorchester Civic Center, Inc. She and her friend Julie Martin, the organization’s secretary, led tours during the open house.
Getting reorganized was the pair’s first task. They transformed the former corporation into the 501c3 non-profit organization it is today.
“We started two years ago and we got the nonprofit status in September or October of last year,” Julie Martin said.
In addition to the new roof the auditorium’s hard wood floors have been repaired, as well as the wood ceiling.
“That ceiling was sagging down and we were able to catch it before it completely collapsed inward,” Barbara Martin said.
They became involved in the restoration partly for personal reasons.
“I went to school here,” Barbara Martin said.
Julie Martin’s father and grandfather were active in the school’s administration.
The cost of the renovations so far reached $100,000.
“And and we estimate it’s going to take that much more to completely restore the building,” Barbara Martin said.
Once the building is restored, the women said they will take measures to register the building as a historic landmark. Regarding a timeline for the restoration, the women said it depends on incoming funds.
“We’ve been very fortunate thus far,” Barbara Martin said. “And we hope today’s open house helps us in getting some more pledges and some funds.”
For more information, call Barbara Martin at 884-5877 or Rebecca Brigdon at 884-2332.
 

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