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History: Former school building returns to new site on highway

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Marie Lindsay wasn’t going to let the old Waverly School just disappear. It had survived more than 80 years of coastal weather, renovations and moving from its original location at Waverly Road and Highway 17 to the All Saints Church campus. The building where her great-grandmother taught a generation of Lachicottes and other children was facing its biggest challenge yet: demolition.

That was not an option. Marie and her husband Buddy along with other relatives hired L.L. Lee Home Movers of Little River to lift the old school and a smaller building that had been attached and move them to the Live Oak campus of Christ the King Waccamaw Church on Highway 17. She guessed the move would cost about $25,000 as she photographed the big truck pulling the building on to Kings River Road last Friday.

The procession moved only a few hundred yards before encountering its first tree limb across from the new bike path bridge. A chain saw blade got hung up, and progress stopped until a moving company employee climbed into the schoolhouse attic and sawed the limb off, freeing the first saw. A few yards further down Kings River Road the house was stopped again by an overhanging tree. A few more limbs were removed, but the movers decided to push through. Bits of the roof flew off as the tree scraped the building, but damage was light. Once the building passed Calvin Gilmore’s house at Waverly and Kings River roads without incident, it had fairly smooth sailing to Beaumont and Highway 17.

Marie Lindsay said her family plans to raise money to restore the schoolhouse and the smaller building as part of the Live Oak Center and future church campus that will be designed by architect Steve Goggans. “My great-grandmother would be very honored if they could have some sort of children’s ministry and Christian education there,” Lindsay said.

She had been inside the school and ripped out Sheetrock to get down to the original bead board walls and found the old wood stove’s chimney. The wooden floors are still in good shape, she said.

This building is actually the new Waverly School that was built in 1932 by Joshua John “Capt. Josh” Ward, husband of teacher Marie Ward, and Albert Springs “Capt. Boo” Lachicotte, her cousin, at the corner of Waverly Road and Highway 17 beside the library and community house.

Waverly Mills School was originally located at Waverly Plantation on the Waccamaw River, home of the P.R. Lachicotte family. A rice mill, barrel-making facility, dairy, lumber mill, shipyard, store and post office were also on the plantation. Steamers transported people and supplies from the wharf at Waverly to Georgetown and Conway. The plantation was the center of activity and the community adopted the name Waverly Mills. The Waverly Mills School was a one-room building where 10 to 12 children were educated, many of them Lachicotte descendants. The school operated until 1931 when it was replaced by a new building.

Marie Hermoine Lachicotte Ward, granddaughter of P.R. Lachicotte and eldest child of his son Francis Williams “Capt. Frank” Lachicotte, was hired as the teacher. The first school building was later moved to the Hammock Shops, owned by P.R. Lachicotte’s great-grandson, A.H. “Doc” Lachicotte Jr., where it remains today.

The new school was built beside the library and community house that occupied the old Cedar Grove slave chapel at Waverly Road and Highway 17. The new school had two rooms with a wood stove and two outhouses in the back. Marie Ward taught about 30 students in seven grades between Sept. 13 and June 7. There were 11 subjects: spelling, reading, writing, arithmetic, geography, grammar, history, civics, drawing, singing and physiology. The school had a small library and used standard textbooks prescribed by the state Board of Education. The teacher was paid $100 a month and was responsible to a board of trustees. Capt. Boo Lachicotte was chairman of the board for many years.

Russell Davis came from Alabama to see his old school move last week and join the Lindsays and Doc Lachicotte in helping save it. His grandfather, Capt. Boo Lachicotte, built the school and his grandmother and aunt were the teachers. He remembered that when one grade was in session the other students were dismissed to go outside and play.

Davis said the students were free to roam in the woods and do “whatever we pleased,” playing marbles or wrestling, sometimes football until they tore it up. The teacher would ring a big brass bell when it was time for the next class. “We had to stay within earshot,” Davis said, “and come running.” Recess lasted about four hours for the Waverly students, he said.

The most trouble he ever got into, Davis said, came when he climbed a tree and wouldn’t come down when the county superintendent came to visit. “I went way up in the top of a hickory tree,” he said, “and embarrassed my grandmother so much it took some time for her to get over the indignation.”

Davis said he would like to see the school building house a Pawleys Island museum to display photographs and old school books, some from Europe, family members have saved. “We have a tremendous amount of things left from that era back as far as you want to go,” he said. “This would be a good place to allow people to see them, but I don’t know if that would be agreeable to the church.”

When his grandmother retired and the school closed in 1947 Davis and other students rode a bus to Georgetown. The property passed to All Saints Church and the school and community house were attached to each other and converted to a parish house Sunday school and a reception hall for the annual Christmas in July bizarre and other functions.

The property was eventually converted to a retail store and later a restaurant called The Community House. All Saints sold the property, and the chapel and school were moved to its campus on Kings River Road.

Marie Lindsay said All Saints decided not to renovate the school building and reattach it to the community house, now known as St. John’s Chapel. She said the church gave her the building with the understanding it would be moved.

She said Christ the King Waccamaw is attended by a number of people who went to Waverly School or a direct descendant, including Marie Lindsay’s mother, Frances Ward Davis “Dookie” Cromwell, Alberta Morel Lachicotte Quattlebaum, Lorna Altman “Tootsie” Watkins, the late Phillip Rossignol Lachicotte (Chip Lachicotte’s father), the late Frederick Lafayette Green (Guerry Green’s father), Kathleen “Snoots Green Howard (Green’s aunt), the late Florence “Foncie” Ward Hall (Flora Mills’ mother), Alice Ward Leatherman Short and the late J.C. Marlow (Faye Marlow’s brother-in-law).

There are other surviving students of Waverly Mills, according to Marie Lindsay, including Mary Deane Lachicotte Johnson, Ethel Lachicotte Boyle Ripley, George Pitt Lachicotte and A.H. “Doc” Lachicotte Jr.

Funds will be raised to renovate the school, and plans call for a plaque to be erected in recognition of family members who attended along with photographs of the era.

Marie Lindsay said she is hoping the school building will be open in time for the annual Plantation Tours sponsored by Prince George Winyah in Georgetown.

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