It is about 86 years old and is showing its age, so committee members are exploring ways to preserve and maintain the gymnasium and other amenities at what is now called the Marshall Township Community Center.
Most of the school that was originally built in 1919 was demolished a few years ago. But the building that houses the former Marshall school gym and a couple former classrooms was saved. It was built in 1931, three years after Marshall High School won a Class B state basketball championship – the only team state championship in Highland County history.
“We’re trying to preserve the building for the community because it’s used a lot,’” said Tim Sheeley, a Marshall Township trustee who said he serves as a liaison between the Marshall School Committee that serves as caretaker of the building and the trustees. “We’d like to keep that piece of history and have it there for the community.”
One problem is that funding for the building’s upkeep and maintenance comes only from a few fundraisers and donations.
“No township or taxpayer money is used. It’s all donations and fundraising,” Sheeley said. “The Marshall School Committee handles the funds and they all go to the township general fund and are earmarked for the gym.”
But those funds are not enough to keep up with needed repairs, mainly for the leaky roof and windows. The roof over the two classrooms is flat and it got a new metal covering last year, but the roof over the gym is arched. Sheeley said estimates for a new roof over that part of the building have ranged from $30,000 to $40,000.
“The roof is the first goal. We have to get it fixed because without it we’ll be in big trouble,” Sheeley said.
There are plans to temporarily patch the roof with a sealant as soon as the weather is warm enough for three or four days in row. But John Abell, treasurer for the school committee, said that will likely work for no more than a year.
Since one of the former classrooms has been turned into a kitchen and bathroom, Sheeley said the building is used a lot more than some might think. The committee hosts three to four events a year, Sheeley said the building regularly hosts 4-H meetings and ball practices, and in recent times it has hosted birthday parties, weddings and wedding receptions, graduation parties, a couple Amish events, the Marshall School Reunion every other year, and sometimes estate auctions.
Exactly how the repairs will be funded is still being discussed, but Abell said the committee is open to suggestions and donations.
Anyone interested in donating or with suggestions can contact Abell at 937-466-9202. He said the committee could also use volunteers.
The committee is currently preparing for its annual spring dinner and auction that will be held from 4-7 p.m. Saturday, April 22 in the gym. The menu will include roast pork, baked steak, Italian chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, a salad bar, rolls, desserts and beverages. A freewill donation will be accepted. There will also be a 50/50 raffle and theme basket live auction at 6 p.m., plus old Marshall trophies, photos and the contents of a time capsule found when the rest of the school was taken down will be on display.
Proceeds will benefit the committee’s Help Raise The Roof Campaign.
The committee also hosts a fall carnival the third weekend in October and a Christmas party on the first Saturday in December when the gym is decked out in lights and its stage is lined with decorated Christmas trees.
Those events and donations have helped the committee put the new roof on the back part of the gym building, install two new doors to the gym, equip the kitchen and purchase tables and chairs, while a grant funded the installation of a handicapped accessible bathroom.
Sheeley said there is a pending grant for a new heating system for the building, but he said it is still in the works and that he can’t disclose where it would come from. Currently, the building uses a decades-old hot water boiler powered by fuel oil.
The building last housed students in 2004 when Hillsboro City Schools sixth-graders attended classes there.
“We’re doing what we can to preserve the building,” Sheeley said. “It’s the last original building still standing for the Hillsboro school district.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.