Drewryville school demolished

Published 8:15 am Wednesday, July 22, 2009

DREWRYVILLE—Most of the Drewryville School, a building that sat atop a small hill in the community for 85 years, has been razed.

Crowder & White Contracting LLC of Franklin continued demolition work at the site on Monday. Workers used a bulldozer to push and pulverize piles of bricks — most of them red, but some painted bright green, perhaps from

restrooms inside the school — into the basement of the building.

Nearby, flames roared from a burning pile of wood debris. A mountain of wood, the next to be consumed by the controlled blaze, was stacked at the rear of the site. Broken desks were strewn about on the woodpile.

All that remains of the structure are the four Doric-style columns that once framed the entrance to the school.

“We decided yesterday to leave them up,” Lynn Ramsey said Tuesday of the columns, which are made of concrete.

Ramsey, a Drewryville resident, member of Drewryville Ruritan Center Inc. and secretary for the Drewryville Woman’s Club, said Crowder & White workers told the Ruritans that the columns would break if they were knocked over by demolition equipment.

“We don’t have a plan, but we thought maybe we could use them for something,” Ramsey said. “They’re part of the history of the school. We were in favor of leaving them up and maybe using them for a sitting area or something. The columns may stay where they are. It’s undecided at this point.”

She added that the contractor said the columns were structurally sound.

The demolition is a fiery end to an institution that first opened its doors in 1924, albeit only to white students during the days of segregation. The school had first- through 11th-grade students before closing in 1955 in favor of two new facilities, Capron Elementary School and Southampton High School.

Years of abandonment followed, slowly transforming the building into a dangerous eyesore. Vandals and Mother Nature coupled together to hasten its demise; broken windows let in the elements, and Hurricane Isabel ripped the tin off the roof in September 2003. The roof eventually collapsed and made the building, which stood in front of ballfields used by area children, extremely dangerous.

The building is being razed after Southampton County and the Ruritans entered into an agreement to fund its demolition. The county is paying Crowder & White $25,200 to tear down the former school. In return, the Ruritans will consider $10,000 of the pricetag to be a grant from the county, and will repay Southampton the remaining $15,200 by making annual payments of $1,520 through a 10-year loan with zero-percent interest.

The Ruritans will also grant the county deeds of trust for the two parcels the school building sat on, securing the county’s loan. Southampton is authorized to file a lien, if necessary, against the property until the Ruritans pay back the $15,200 loan in full.