Effort to save Dickenson Co. Memorial High School underway
CLINTWOOD, VA - A Dickenson County school with important historical roots is at risk of selling to the highest offer. The county is considering selling the old Dickenson County Memorial High School, but there's an effort to stop the sale.
The county historical society is devoted to saving this school because of its significance, built as a memorial to 16 soldiers from the area who died in WWI.
"Something that could give back to the community, sort of a living monument," said historical society president Edith Faye Redden. "That's the reason they did not put up a granite marker at the courthouse. They wanted it to serve some purpose just like these men did with their service, their sacrifice."
She and her fellow historical society members are on a campaign to save the school to forever display the history and honor the soldiers.
"We could take these photos and do them justice along with other military memorabilia we've collected," said secretary treasurer Susan Mullins, indicating to walls of photos of past and present military members with ties to the area.
They also see the property as a community center where the auditorium can be used for performances and old classrooms can go towards community education programs.
But since the school closed in 2015, county supervisors have other plans. They hope to sell it and other vacated school property to add back to the tax rolls.
"What can we use these properties for that might benefit our community and look at it with a broad brush first and we'll see what comes back, if anything, and we'll go from there," said Board of Supervisors vice chair Ron Peters.
He said he would love to see it saved but has doubts about the feasibility of restoring it.
"It looked like $7 million would need to be put into it to save it," he said, citing a study conducted a couple years ago. But he concedes the historical society has plans that likely wouldn't be so expensive.
The historians insist that with the right grants and help from the community, that piece of history doesn't have to be lost.
"It's a monument to our men who died, the men who fight to keep us free," Mullins said.
The historical society is urging the community to reach out to supervisors and let them know what they want to happen with the building, whether to preserve it or to sell it. There is also an open petition on Change.org.