VERNON, Al. (WCBI) — A restoration project at the Old Lamar County High School is nearing completion. When finished the efforts will expand cultural and educational opportunities for citizens of the West Alabama town.
The project to restore the Lamar County School to it’s original architectural glory has taken 11 years. Months and months of planning is making way for the new multi-purpose Vernon City Complex.
“It houses city hall, it houses the city library, as well as a small art department where local artists can store and display their work. And we have a small museum,” said Glenn Crawford, Vernon Mayor.
In that museum, the Jefferson Ross Finch gun collection, featuring weapons certainly not from our time period. The 1939 portrait of the first graduating class, old newspaper articles and eye catching tools of yesteryear, are neatly displayed for all to see. The idea is to preserve as much of the old as possible.
“As close as they can get it, the wood floors have been saved and re done. The, lot of the paneling on the wood and in the classroom even some of the rooms you’ll see the chalkboard still there from the original school,” said Crawford.
On one wall there is graffiti left by kids that attended school there, something of a memento.
In one of the old classrooms, there is a genealogy department having information on family history dating back to the 1700’s is actively in use already.
The Vernon City Complex is about 90% finished and there is a meeting room for public use.
“Kind of a place where you can rent to come in and do meals or family gatherings. We’ll use it for the kind of a meals on wheels type deal. We’ll be located over there as well,” said Crawford.
And so as the old is being restored to something new, there is the need to keep little reminders of what use to be. Reminders like an old washing machine, manual lawn mower, and old typewriters.
The last class to graduate from the Old Lamar County High School was in 2002, renovations should be completed in about a year.
The Lamar County High School building was constructed in 1936 by R. Hugh Daniel.
A lot of the financial grant money for the project came from the Hugh Daniel Foundation of Birmingham, Alabama.