ELBERT COUNTY - Out in the farm lands of Elbert County is a place that once was and is now again. The West Lincoln School closed 68 years ago and fell into ruin. Exactly 100 years after its construction, the one-room school is reborn.
"If somebody didn't do this, the building will just probably fall down," Allen Gresham, former student, said. "Somebody broke in and stole everything in here."
Gresham's son, Bob, led the mission to restore the building set in the middle of the countryside along County Road 98 in Elbert County. Bob Gresham and his wife Eileen spent the last 10 years repainting and refurbishing the building. They collected old books, desks, and other items to make the schoolhouse feel authentic again.
"Reminds me of how it used to be," Allen Gresham said.
He and his older brother Warren were part of the last class ever at the school in 1945.
"This could've been destroyed and gone and nothing left but memories," Warren Gresham said.
Allen and Warren have memories of how life was so different when they were in school. They had no electricity and no running water. Using the outhouse was standard and the idea of air conditioning did not exist.
"September days, we would sit here and it would be real hot, uncomfortable," Warren Gresham said.
Some memories, Allen would rather forget like when the teacher caught him and another boy fighting.
"He took us in this corner out here, laid one over knee and the other over the other knee and gave us a licking," Allen Gresham said.
Warren Gresham remembers that moment very well laughing about his brother's sore behind.
"I think I laid low in case I got involved," Warren Gresham said.
But, this restoration project is more than just for the Gresham family. Saturday afternoon, about 125 people turned out for an open house to celebrate the 100 year-old schoolhouse and it's returned condition. The Gresham's are working on the one-room school becoming an historic landmark.
"My parents both went to school in this building," Allen Gresham said. "It's so important to see how school used to be."
The Gresham's say even though they did not have much. They had a place that was important to the community then - and now.
"One of the things that you learned to do was focus," Warren Gresham said. "A one-room school was not a handicap as far as getting an education."
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