A Saturday morning fire destroyed the
Built in 1951, the building was the cafeteria for the old school and then became a center of life for area residents.
"It was the heartbeat of the community," District 2 County Supervisor
Firefighters from the
Volunteers were on their way to a fire training session downtown when they received the call.
Lake Montrose Assistant Fire Chief
Whittington said that within 20 minutes, 18 firefighters were on the scene.
Carter said the fire likely started shortly after
Witnesses driving by on Kingston and Upper Kingston roads shortly after
Carter said that on weekends when the building is rented, people might come up on a Saturday morning to decorate and prepare, but that no events were planned for the community center this weekend.
Fire officials on the scene said they did not know the cause of the fire Saturday morning.
"It is a tragedy -- one of the last landmarks of the area," Schepers said.
Schepers attended the
"My momma went to school here," he said.
Schepers attended the school from 1945 to 1954. He remembers when the building was built in 1951 to replace a smaller cafeteria on the same spot.
"It was still burning when I went down there," McIlwain said. "It is just heartbreaking."
McIlwain also attended
"My mom was a cook down there," McIlwain said. "They put me with the first graders because I didn't have anywhere else to go."
McIlwain attended the school until it closed in 1958.
McIlwain said the school was first built in 1919. Over time, several buildings were built on the property, including an auditorium and gymnasium that burned down. One year after the school closed, the original school building was dismantled but the cafeteria was left as the area's community center.
Carter said he and County Administrator
McIlwain said many memories are tied to the building.
"Throughout the years, we had weddings, reunions, community fundraisers, get-togethers, entertainment and fellowship," she said.
Carter said the county did have insurance on the building and will begin to look at what it will take to rebuild the building.
"There is too much history down there to not pass down to our children and our grandchildren," McIlwain said. "The memories are still down there. We don't want them to end today."
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