To help preserve the structure for future generations, Rollins Ranch LLC donated $25,000 Sept. 14. Along with repairing any deteriorated wood, the funds will go toward painting the interior and exterior of the building.
“Stilesboro Academy became a Places [in] Peril with the Georgia Trust [for Historic Preservation] and they were in desperate need of putting [on] a new roof and painting the facility. And we felt like it was a worthy cause,” said Thorne Winter, director of real estate for Rollins Ranch.
Located at 14 Taff Road, eight miles west of Cartersville, Stilesboro Academy served as a school for children in the first through 12th grades from 1859 through the late 1930s. When the Bartow County School System wanted to close Stilesboro Academy, the club paid what the lumber was worth and, in turn, received the deed for the school in 1939. According to local legend, Union Gen. William T. Sherman spared the academy on his march to Atlanta due to the motto of West Point — his alma mater — being inscribed inside the structure.
“[Stilesboro Academy] is just a part of our heritage,” said Susiann Brock, a member of the Stilesboro Improvement Club, which is charged with maintaining the structure. “We all had family members that went to school there. Of course, a lot of them are gone now because the building was built in 1859 and it was built to school the community children when there were no public schools. ... For the sake of the historical value of the building, we want to keep it as long as we can.
“I don’t know if there are words that could thank [Rollins Ranch] appropriately. It’s been such a wonderful thing for us to know that we’re going to be able to get our building painted and repair work done and hopefully restore it to something of the way it used to be. It would be hard to put into words the proper thank you, but we certainly do appreciate this generous gift.”
For the Stilesboro Improvement Club, maintaining the Stilesboro Academy is a never-ending endeavor. While the Places in Peril distinction has given the structure greater visibility across the state, Brock said local supporters are providing ongoing support by attending the group’s fundraisers throughout the year, the largest of which being the Stilesboro Chrysanthemum Show.
“All through the years, we’ve had so many people that have been able to give toward keeping up the building and the restoration of the building,” Brock said. “When we have a fundraising event, such as the Hobo Supper [Sept. 14], our community has been wonderful to support that and they have kept us afloat for a long time, [but] we get behind. It’s like your home. There are large expenses as well as small expenses. We’ve got a power bill and a water bill, like everybody else, and that’s a constant. But occasionally you have to have repairs like [to the] roof and paint on the inside and paint on the outside.
“Of course, we had a tree back several years ago that fell during one of the storms and we’ve never really recovered from that because a lot of repair work was needed at the time. As we gathered up our small amounts of funds, there was never enough to do what needed to be done. ... So we’ve done everything that we could with the money we had, but [we had] fallen behind in the much needed major repairs that people have to do to maintain any kind of building.”
For more information about Stilesboro Academy, visit www.stilesboroacademy.org.