One of the oldest standing school houses in Jefferson County is at 977 Sardis Rd, in Gardendale, Alabama.
Sardis School was established in 1918, but the building standing today was built in 1923. Originally it contained two rooms plus a kitchen area.
In 1940 one room was removed by the county when the school closed. The plan was to tear down the remaining part of the school but some of the men from the community stopped the demolition.
The damaged area was quickly repaired and workers added a wall at the west end of the building.
The building was not left to sit idle, for many years it was repurposed and brimming with activity. The surrounding neighborhood enjoyed it as a local community center.
With family get-togethers, dinners, quilting bees, Easter egg hunts, and fall festivals the rustic school was busy.
Sardis School Project
Five years ago a small group of caring citizens started the “Sardis School Project”. The plan was to restore the building and give it a new purpose. Rotten boards were removed, windows were replaced or upgraded, a fresh coat of paint was added, and it was topped off with a new roof.
Karen Williams is one of those caring citizens. She was raised in the Sardis community and has lived here most of her life.
Her grandmother, Lucille Jones Nail, attended the Sardis School in the 1920s, so her connection goes back decades.
You can see her certificate from the school still hanging, framed in the schoolhouse today.
Monetary donations by people using the building for various functions funded the improvements. Upkeep of the building and minor repairs are done on a volunteer basis.
Of course, when bigger projects are needed, a contractor is hired.
Many Uses for the Building
The repairs have retained the history of the former schoolhouse but added a shine that sparkles. Once more the building is available to contribute to the neighborhood. It is available to rent for birthday parties, baby and wedding showers, graduations, and get-togethers.
It can be used for rehearsal dinners, and receptions and even a unique wedding can be held in the schoolhouse.
The property that the school house currently rests on belongs to Grace Community Church. The Church currently meets at 4:00 pm on Sundays. The building was once a place of learning and filled with the laughter of children.
We at NJP are grateful to those who understood the value of keeping the building a part of the Sardis community and a contributor to Gardendale’s charm.
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