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Education

Callaway's one-room schoolhouse is now restored after nearly being destroyed by Hurricane Michael

A one-room schoolhouse in Callaway is now restored after it sustained significant damage from Hurricane Michael. Three years ago, the storm blew the century-old schoolhouse off its foundation, tore up its roof, and shattered its glass windows.
Robbie Gaffney
/
WFSU-FM
A one-room schoolhouse in Callaway is now restored after it sustained significant damage from Hurricane Michael. Three years ago, the storm blew the century-old schoolhouse off its foundation, tore up its roof, and shattered its glass windows.

Three years ago, the storm blew the century-old schoolhouse off its foundation, tore up its roof and shattered its glass windows.

A one-room schoolhouse built more than a century ago in Callaway was nearly destroyed during Hurricane Michael. But now, the building has been restored.

Long ago, one-room schoolhouses were the norm. Now, they mostly operate as museums, and not many are left in Florida. Hurricane Michael nearly claimed the one in Callaway. It ripped the building off its foundation, tore apart its roof, and shattered its windows.

"It just all went away in just a matter it seemed like a matter of a few minutes, John Piercy, Vice President of the Callaway Historical Society, says.

Some of the schoolhouse's furniture was salvageable, but the piano wasn't. Piercy says they also lost some pictures and books.

"It was just a hard tearful-type experience," Piercy says.

Tim Legare is Callaway's director of leisure services. He says the process of getting restoration underway took a while, and during that time, storms came in and tore up tarps covering the schoolhouse's roof.

"Everything inside would get wet again, and we would retarp it, and you know, we probably did that—I lost count of how many times. I'd say at least 8 to 12 times," Legare says.

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Robbie Gaffney
Members of the Callaway Historical Society put furniture back into the schoolhouse once it was ready.

Legare says reconstruction included getting the schoolhouse a new foundation, ceiling, roof, and windows. He says similar materials to the original ones were used so that the schoolhouse still looks like it did in the early 1900s. But he says some of the building's original features, like its floorboards, stayed.

"We had some local people that were really good at restoring wood floors. They came in here and spent a lot of time on it, fixed it up quite nice. It's hard to believe this is the original 1911 floor," Legare says.

Piercy says once the building was ready, members of the Callaway Historical Society put the salvaged furniture back in the schoolhouse.

"It's beautiful to have this back and have it the way it is. It's a good day," Piercy says.

The building also has a few new features, like a ramp, so those who use wheelchairs can access the building. And people from the community also donated items, like a new piano. Piercy says that instrument will be played when the schoolhouse is open for visitors during the upcoming holidays.

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