Most view the pillars and arch of Evans Middle School as part of Columbia County's history. For Rosemary "Peaches" Tiller and Hubert Anderson, the edifices of stone and mortar are part of their legacy.
Rosemary "Peaches" Tiller's grandfather helped build the pillars and arch in front of Evans Middle School, and Hubert Anderson hauled stones from the nearby farms in his father's truck when he was 12 years old.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
With the help of a group of boys, including Anderson, Tiller's father, Harry B. Hennis, built the pillars and arch in 1934 for the Evans Consolidated School, where Evans Middle now sits.
"He was the only one around (Columbia County) at the time, before we became citified, that could lay rock," Tiller, 78, said of her father.
"What he did was he formed the thing, laid the mortar and rock in there and then took the forms off," Anderson said.
As a 12-year-old, Anderson, now 82, borrowed his father's truck along with friends W.B. Norris, O.G. Emory and Haskel Culpepper and collected and transported the flint rocks Hennis used to build the pillars and arch.
"The farmers would pile them up on the hedgerows to get them out of the fields, and that's where we got them from," Anderson said. "I (was allowed) so many hours for the use of the truck, and we hauled the rock there."
Hennis and Anderson worked on the pillars and arch as part of a Great Depression-era program created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
"It was an initiative through the Works Progress Administration that Roosevelt had initiated in office," Tiller's grandson Dwight Johnson said. "Federal funding was funneled through to the counties to help create jobs during the New Deal, and that was a job he got with that program."
Hennis earned about $50 a month working on the pillars and arch, Johnson said. Anderson said his wage was closer to $6 a month.
One pillar was recently damaged when it was knocked over by a school bus. As of Thursday, the damage to the pillar had not yet been assessed.
Tiller hopes the county will repair the damage.
"I hope they can, but if they can't, accidents happen." she said.
Still living in Evans, both Tiller and Anderson attended Evans Consolidated School. In fact, Tiller said she often ate lunch under the arch as a schoolgirl with the nine other members of her 1943 senior class.
The Evans Middle School property was sold earlier this year to a group of developers.
They are planning to transform the 21-acre lot at the corner of Washington and Belair roads into an upscale shopping center.
Columbia County school officials plan to move the pillars and arch, but they are still undecided as to where they should go. Suggestions for their new home include Evans High School and the new Evans Middle School when it is constructed in 2006.
Tiller and Anderson would prefer the pillars and arch stay in the Evans Town Center, but they are satisfied that they will be preserved.
"They represent a lot of people that went to Evans School," Anderson said.
"Daddy was proud of them," Tiller said. "That's our center of Evans, them columns."
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