When voters in the Evans area approved bonds to build a new Evans Consolidated School back in 1926, the cost was a hefty $30,000. The new stone-and-stucco building, completed barely six months later, featured six classrooms, an auditorium, two science rooms and offices.
That building burned down nearly three decades later, and a new brick building went up on the site. That building is now occupied by Evans Middle School, with Evans High School since moved to a new site on Cox Road. Evans Middle will soon follow to a Hereford Farm Road site nearby.
Throughout all those changes, there has been one constant landmark along the schools' Washington Road frontage: six pillars and a monumental arch, all hand-built of fieldstone with craftsmanship of a bygone era.
Those stone works are all that remain of the Evans Consolidated School. The relics have been threatened before, and were moved out of harms's way when Washington Road was widened just over a decade ago. Oddly enough, the cost was about $30,000 -- the same as the original school cost to build.
Just as it was in both those eras, money is one of the primary concerns in the future of these historical landmarks. Blanchard and Calhoun Commercial Corp. now owns the property and in a couple of years will turn it into a commercial center. The pillars and arch aren't compatible with the company's project, and the cost to move them could be significant. It's certain the cost will be far higher than the last time the stone structures were moved.
The good news? Vic Mills, CEO of Blanchard and Calhoun Commercial Corp., says his company will help pay to move the structures wherever the school system decides they should go. The school system likely will help pay for the move, too, and county commissioners could certainly chip in.
Mills, however, has put his stamp on an idea that would help pay for moving the relics while giving Evans alumni and supporters a literal piece of the school's past.
Augusta State University currently is tearing down three old buildings on its campus, and selling the bricks to raise funds for the school. The idea easily translates to Evans: Blanchard and Calhoun will one day tear down the old school building, knocking down hundreds of thousands of bricks in the process.
Mills endorses the idea of selling commemorative bricks, and using the money to help pay to move the columns and arch. The effort not only would bring in much-needed funds; it would also give alumni and supporters a tangible piece of history, a physical link to the school.
Evans graduates are quickly warming to the idea, but they'll need to coordinate their efforts with Mills while making sure the school board and county commissioners are involved, too.
There's still the looming question of where the pillars and arch will go once they're moved -- whether to Evans High, to the new Evans Middle or to the county's Memorial Park at the courthouse.
But at least the matter of how the trip will be paid for seems clearer.
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