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A sense of community

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Waverly School will assume a new identity by Easter.

It has been a one-room schoolhouse, a retail store, a restaurant and a building in need of renovation. The schoolhouse and a second building known as St. John’s Chapel when it was at All Saints Church have been re-connected and renovated into offices and a meeting space at the Christ the King-Grace Church’s Live Oaks Center on Highway 17.

The two buildings were moved from All Saints Church a year ago under direction of Marie Lindsay. The building where her great-grandmother taught a generation of Lachicottes and other children was facing demolition. 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.

General contractor Robert Brinson, who is also junior warden of Christ the King-Grace Church, said the job of renovating the old buildings has been a labor of love. “We have old pictures of what it looked like,” Brinson said. “It’s very close to what it was.”

A leaky shingle roof led to water damage in the main building. A new metal roof glistens in the sun now. One wall had to be rebuilt, but the schoolroom’s wall of windows was preserved. Brinson’s foreman Rick Syriac said workers found counterweights as part of a pulley system in the walls that allowed students to raise and lower the heavy windows. The counterweights were removed, and the windows sealed shut since the building has modern heating and air conditioning.

Much of the old floor has been saved, though Brinson can’t say whether it is original to the building. Doors that were salvaged from schoolhouses from the 1920s have been hung in the office area of the building to maintain its period look. “The donors have made a lot of effort to keep the antique component to it,” Brinson said. “We salvaged what we could and added older woodwork.” The old bead board ceiling was preserved along with the wainscotting. A new blackboard on the wall preserves the schoolhouse image. As a commercial building, the remodeling required a ramp and bathrooms to accommodate the handicapped. That’s quite an improvement from the old days when there were two outhouses out back and a water pump in the front yard.

Brinson said the church plans to use the building as a combination of meeting space and children’s programming. Offices in front will be used by the pastor and church secretary.

“There was a lot of sentimental value that prompted this project,” Brinson said. “If you simply wanted a building, you would have done it from scratch. A lot of work went into this.”

The building is actually the new Waverly School built in 1932 by Joshua John “Capt. Josh” Ward, husband of teacher Marie Ward, and Albert Springs “Capt. Boo” Lachicotte, Marie Lindsay’s 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, where it remains.

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. The school closed in 1947, and the property passed to All Saints Church. 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 bazaar 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.

After All Saints decided not to renovate the school and chapel, the Lindsays were given the buildings with the understanding they would be moved. “I feel like my great-grandmother would be well pleased with where we are,” Marie Lindsay said.

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