The pillars of stone and mortar lining the street next to Evans Middle School symbolize a bygone era when Evans consisted mostly of tall trees and dirt roads.
Rachel Robertson stands next to the Evans Middle School pillars. She attended the old Evans Consolidated School, which sat on the site of the middle school. The pillars and archway lined the road to the school, and they have been treasured for years. Their fate is now uncertain because of plans to develop the area into a retail center.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Now, the school at Wash-ington and Belair roads sits on valuable property in a burgeoning bedroom community.
Developers plan to turn the 21-acre parcel into a modern retail center, but they also are looking to preserve some remnants of the past: the school's pillars and archway.
Some possibilities for the preservation include incorporating the archway and pillars into the design of the retail center. Another option is moving them to Evans High School or to the new Evans Middle School on Hereford Farm Road once it is completed in 2006.
"We're reviewing all possibilities to make the best long-term decision," said Victor Mills, the chief executive officer of Blanchard and Calhoun Commercial Corp., which bought the Evans Middle campus with Abernathy and Timberlake Investment LLC for $4.8 million.
"At this juncture, we're trying to research the history of the columns and arches and, secondly, to be sensitive to what the community's wishes are," Mills said.
The original Evans Consol-idated School, located on the corner lot where Evans Middle now is, was dedicated on New Year's Eve in 1926, according to an article in the Jan. 13, 1927 edition of The Columbia News. The archway and pillars lined the road that led to the school.
The school burned down in the mid-1950s and was replaced with the Evans High building that currently serves as Evans Middle.
The pillars and arch are all that remain from that first building's legacy, said 76-year-old Rachel Robertson, a former student at the original Evans High.
Robertson wants to see the pillars and archway preserved. She's just not sure they should be moved to another school.
"I don't think they'd look good at the (current) Evans High School," she said. "I think, since we got a new justice center and we're getting a new library and arts center, that maybe they could do something with the pillars out in that yard. It could be worked in there."
Robertson owns Strictly Country, a collectibles and Christmas decorations specialty shop across Washington Road from Evans Middle. The shop once was the original Evans School, and later became a residence for teachers when Evans Consolidated School opened. Much of the store is made from the same materials as the pillars and archway.
Robertson's life is tied to the history of Evans High, and she said she feels a special kinship to the pillars and archway.
"I'm just one person, but I hate to see them moved," she said.
Regardless of where the pillars and archway end up, Columbia County School Superintendent Tommy Price said officials won't abandon the history the relics represent.
"We haven't done anything to determine just what would be involved to move something that old that's made out of stone and mortar, and how delicate that process will be," Price said.
"It won't be easy. It won't be cheap. But anyhow, we're committed to save them. We're not going to lose that history."
Photo by Jim BlaylockRachel Robertson stands next to the Evans Middle School pillars. She attended the old Evans Consolidated School, which sat on the site of the middle school. The pillars and archway lined the road to the school, and they have been treasured for years. Their fate is now uncertain because of plans to develop the area into a retail center.
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