The Mary Ray Memorial School one of The Georgia Trust of Historic Preservation's 2009 Places in Peril was the site of a community workday this past Saturday, March 14th. The Georgia Trust has been engaging this year's Places in Peril with spotlight events. "Each spotlight event has been different, as the needs of each endangered property have been different" said Georgia Trust President, Mark C. McDonald. He went on to say "We are actively working to engage the public of our Places in Peril using these events. The spotlight for the Mary Ray Memorial School was highly successful in generating public participation. Despite rain and cold temperatures local as well as volunteers from around the southeast showed great enthusiasm as they participated in the workday.
The Mary Ray Memorial School has been the hub of the Raymond Community for a century now and although it had fallen into disrepair in the late 1980's there is a strong grassroots group working on the building's comeback. Deeded to the trustees of the people of the town of Raymond in the early part of the 20th Century the Mary Ray School was used as a School until the late 1940's thereafter becoming a community center.
The workday began with volunteers arriving and being greeted with Paula Stanford's homemade sausage and biscuits. After a few moments of conversation and organizing of ladders and tools the volunteers were gathered together by Allen Robertson, President of the Mary Ray Schoolhouse organization. Allen greeted everyone and discussed the projects that would occur throughout the day emphasizing that the point of the day's activity was not only to work but also to have fellowship and enjoy the day. Mark C. McDonald thereafter announced The Georgia Trust would be awarding a matching grant to the Mary Ray Memorial School as part of its Partners in the Field Program for the amount of $10,000 for the restoration and stabilization of the building. In announcing the grant, Mark said" The volunteers of the Mary Ray School embody the very spirit of preservation and it is an honor for The Georgia Trust to be working with this group."
After a morning of hard work, from everyone ranging in age from 90 to 7, volunteers adjourned for Lunch which included fried chicken, vegetables and an array of homemade desserts. At the close of the day much of the building material was recycled after the removal of a later bathroom addition. The porch was painted and large sections of recycled trim pieces were scraped and prepped for future installation. A large section of flooring was replaced as well as a section of beaded ceiling. Debris was removed from the pockets behind wainscoting and other areas in the interior. Volunteer Cindy Eidson said, "The whole experience was wonderful and I really feel as if I have a vested interest with the building now."