By Dawn Krebs
MARTIN COUNTY -- No one is sure when the New Monrovia one-room schoolhouse was built, or who built it. But they knew the history.
Made of wood, the one-room schoolhouse was one of the first schoolhouses build in Martin County to educate African-American children.
And on Saturday, March 9, Martin County commissioners, staff, former students and historians revisited the now restored building for the dedication ceremony that ensures the building, and its history, will be preserved for future generations.
"The schoolhouse was carefully restored and we are thrilled to return it to the New Monrovia community," said Sarah Heard, Martin County District Four Commissioner Chair. "We are proud to have completed this project and in doing so, preserved an important part of Martin County History."
The historic schoolhouse is located in what is now known at Port Salerno, near the Costella Williams Learning Center.
Over the years, it had fallen apart from disrepair and was also heavily damaged by the hurricanes a few years ago.
But thanks to efforts from the county's general services department, it received a new roof, floor, ceiling, windows and door. Three of the original walls inside the building were saved. The majority of the funds used for the project came from District 4 and insurance proceeds.
"This signifies a new beginning for the schoolhouse," said Harold Markey, the general services department director. "The public will now be able to step inside this building and learn about the history that took place here."
There was an official ribbon-cutting ceremony held on March 9, along with other historical displays and a performance by middle school bands. Food for the event was prepared by Martin County Fire Rescue.
The next step for the building waits as the Historic Preservation Board is in the process of considering the county's petition to place the schoolhouse on the Martin County Local Register of Historic Landmarks.
"By restoring this historical treasure, Martin County has preserved an important chapter in the county's history," said Joette Lorion Rice, chairwoman of the historical preservation board.
Now, residents can visit the schoolhouse, where green chalk boards hang from their original locations, and students' original wooden desks, built by South Fork High School carpentry students, line the room.
"I am grateful to the county for realizing and recognizing that old school has significant value," said former student Boyize Herring Jr. "I am very happy about this dedication."