ACQUISITION OF THE SCHOOLHOUSE
In 2004 the City of Oak Grove came to the Oak Grove Tourism Commission and asked if they might be able to help restore the Oak Grove School, a one room schoolhouse dating back to the late 1800s or early 1900s. The building had been donated to the City by William Summerhill a descendant of one of the original trustees of the school. The Tourism Commission accepted the deed, relocated the building to the War Memorial Walking Trail and began restoring this important piece of Oak Grove History. The building should be complete and open for tours in late 2011.
HISTORY OF THE SCHOOLHOUSE
According to deeds the building dates back to either 1893 or 1900 but there is some confusion on the exact date. There were three original trustees including, W.A. McKenzie, W.H. Summerhill, and G.S. Vaughn. When it first opened the school was for white children in the first through eighth grades. In 1936 it became a school for black children and remained as such until it was closed in 1952. W.R. Summerhill then purchased the school grounds and building on November 11, 1952 for $3,150.00. The school sat empty until it was donated to the City of Oak Grove by William R. Summerhill, Jr and Susan English Dillard in 2004.
Although it cannot be recorded in the national book of historical landmarks due to being removed from its original location, the Oak Grove Schoolhouse is very well documented. First, the teacher record books, containing names, addresses, grades, attendance, teacher names and yearly syllabus, date back to as early as 1923. In addition to these records, Margaret Summerhill English, who attended the school from 1923-1929 wrote a detailed account of her experiences there. Mrs. English words paint a picture of not only what the school was like, but what going to school in those times felt like. This document will be displayed in the restored Schoolhouse.
The process of moving and restoring the Oak Grove School has been long and without complication, but as it nears completion it is easy to see what it could mean to this community. The building, which the Tourism Commission has tried to restore with as much originality as possible, will portray a one-room schoolhouse setting from the late 1800s. Complete with antique children’s and teacher’s desk, along with potbellied stove and blackboard, the Oak Grove School will truly take its visitors back in time. It will serve as a display for many of Oak Grove’s historical artifacts and documents.