Originally created 09/24/05

School seeks help to save pillars



Evans Middle School kicks off a fundraiser Wednesday to relocate pieces of the school's history.

School officials will begin taking donations to save the nearly 80-year-old pillars and arch that line the Washington Road border of the campus.

"Folks that might have attended school here and know the history of the pillars and arch could help," said Evans Middle Principal Michael Johnson.

"We don't want to see those items left behind, going on the auction block and end up lining the driveway of somebody's front yard. We want to take them with us."

Built in 1927, the seven pillars and one arch were constructed as part of the Evans Consolidated School. A fire destroyed the school in 1955 but spared the pillars and arch.

The pillars and arch remain on the campus at Belair and Washington roads as tangible reminders of the original edifice.

The current Evans Middle School, which is near the spot of the first schoolhouse, will be torn down at the end of the school year. A shopping center will be built on the 21-acre property, which was sold by the Columbia County school system last year.

A new Evans Middle is under construction on Hereford Farm Road, but Mr. Johnson is unsure whether the pillars and arch will follow him to the new campus. They could be moved to Evans Middle, Evans High School or split between both, he said.

"I'm going to let a committee make that decision, but first we've got to get the money together to move them," he said.

Construction engineers have examined the pillars and arch, but have not yet quoted Mr. Johnson a price to move the structures.

Still, he believes it will cost thousands of dollars and wants to go ahead with the fundraising process.

A box will await spectators at the middle school's home football game Oct. 11 to make donations, and Mr. Johnson said further fundraisers might follow. In the meantime, anyone wishing to donate funds, labor or machinery can do so directly at the school, he said.

Hoping to make the moving effort community-based, Mr. Johnson is resisting the idea of asking the school board for help. He believes taxpayer money is better spent on instruction.

"There are folks who don't even live in Evans' zone that will have to finance this burden, and I don't feel they'll be willing to do that when they're not tied to the columns in any kind of emotional way," he said.

Now that a fundraiser to save the pillars and arch is underway, and a quote to move them is expected any day, Mr. Johnson believes the public will support the effort.

"I really feel the community will rise to the occasion," he said. "I've had a lot of folks call me and tell they're interested in donating money to save them. They're just waiting to hear the price."

Reach Donnie Fetter at 868-1222, ext. 113 or donnie.fetter@augustachronicle.com.

Timeline



1927: The Evans Consolidated School opens at Washington and Belair roads.



1955: Fire destroys the school in October.



1957: The new Evans Consolidated School, built over the ruins, opens for classes.



1980: A new Evans High School opens on Cox Road. The Washington Road campus becomes Evans Junior High School, serving seventh through ninth grades.



1985: Ninth grade is removed and sixth grade is added to the school, making it Evans Middle School.



2004: The Columbia County Board of Education sells the Evans Middle site in May to a group of developers for $4.8 million.



2005: Construction begins on a new Evans Middle School on Hereford Farm Road in February.



2006: The new Evans Middle School will open for pupils in August.



Sources: The Augusta Chronicle archives, The Columbia County News-Times archives, and The History of Evans Middle School by a 1994 independent study class of Evans Middle.