The few physical reminders of Leah High School in Appling include a felled arch and concrete steps that lead to a nonexistent gym.
But the history of the site, which recently became Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue's newest fire station, won't be forgotten.
Former state Rep. Bill Jackson, who found the arch at the site and has been instrumental in saving the stone arch and columns at the former Evans Middle School location, is looking to do the same thing with some of Leah High's forgotten relics.
"Keep it. Let it be something people can come here and see," said Jackson, who graduated from Evans High School and remembers visiting Leah High to play basketball.
The last class of Leah High graduated more than 50 years ago, with the Ray Owens Road school's lower classes closing forever in 1956.
These days, many have fond memories of the school, including 1948 graduate Gary Blanchard, who recently visited the site near Ridge Road and organizes biennial reunions of Leah High graduates.
"I can remember where everything was," he said.
The school graduated its final class in 1949, with future graduates transferring to Harlem High School, according to Blanchard and 1949 graduate June Hardin Spalding.
Most of the four concrete pillars and 18 poles that once marked the front of the school still stand near the road among tall pine trees and overgrown kudzu.
An 18-foot-wide arch, which once adorned an entrance, lies broken on the ground.
Blanchard said visitors had to drive through the arch to get to the school grounds.
The two-story school building was felled in the late 1950s. The gymnasium and arch came down sometime later, though history of the school buildings is still unclear.
Remnants of the gymnasium and other small buildings still stand at the site.
Large concrete foundation piers are evident as are the four concrete sets of stairs leading into the long-gone gym. Coal, used in some of the pot-bellied stoves in each classroom, is still piled near a well house on the edge of the property.
Former state Sen. Jake Pollard, who remembers canning vegetables in a building behind the gym, said on a recent visit to the area he was disappointed to see the demise of the former school site.
"I said, 'I can't believe all of my school is falling down.'"
Jackson said he discovered the arch last summer after receiving several calls about the structure.
He said the poured concrete arch can be repaired and he'd like to display it on the site when the fire station is complete.
"I liked to have fainted when I saw it," Jackson said of discovering the arch. "... We can make this really pretty here and save it."
Blanchard said he vividly remembers his time at the school, filling in for the janitor by getting fires started in each classroom's pot-bellied stove during the winter and seeing Pollard cut his little finger off with a wood planer in the shop building.
"I remember when they put that arch up back when I was in the grammar school back in probably the second or third or fourth grade," Blanchard said. "It was the WPA (Works Progress Administration) that built it ... I can remember those men working up there putting those columns up and putting that arch up."
Blanchard, Pollard and Spalding say they'd love to see the arch preserved and displayed again on the site.
"I think it'd be wonderful," Spalding said. "When I drive by, I miss it."
Jackson said he's looking for anyone with photos of the pillars and arch in their original locations and other original photos of the school site.
Anyone with pictures can contact him at (706) 541-2307.
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