Historic Callaway One-Room Schoolhouse restoration nears completion

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CALLAWAY, Fla. (WMBB) — After months of hard work, a 109-year old building in Callaway has been put back together, after Hurricane Michael took it off its foundation two years ago.

Since May, 2020, crews have been working to restore the historic one-room schoolhouse, which is considered a treasure to many local residents, like Callaway Historical Society President, John Piercy. 

“It’s very important to have something put back together and put back together right,” Piercy said on Thursday. “I realize it could have been just thrown back together, but it wasn’t.”

He had many relatives attend the school when they were children. He said after Hurricane Michael, seeing it for the first time was very difficult.

“It was really heartbreaking to look down here,” Piercy said. “It’s hard to see something like this messed up, all our paperwork pretty much scattered and gone.”

Callaway One-Room Schoolhouse days after Hurricane Michael

A century of history, in pieces; the neighboring museum also suffered major damage. Some artifacts were never recovered, however there was hope for the school house.

After months of working out the logistics, it was finally lifted back onto its foundation in May. Since then, crews have been working to restore the exterior and interior up to standards with its historical designation with the National Register of Historic Places. 

“I was really amazed when I walked through the door,” Callaway Mayor Pamn Henderson said. “The floors look the same, the walls look the same.”

As of Thursday, it was almost completely back together, with original furniture like desks, chairs and other artifacts back inside.

“Our history is intact again,” Henderson said. “It’ll be handed down to future generations.”

Piercy said the history continues, as Hurricane Michael and recovery will be a story told for generations.

“We’ll all learn from that,” he said. “I want us to have the information 100 years from now where we can pick it up and listen to it or watch it on video.”

He’s said he’s hoping that information can start to be collected at Callaway Historical Society meetings that are going to be in-person again starting on Sunday, December 20th. It’ll also be the first time members of the public will be invited to see the inside of the schoolhouse since Hurricane Michael did so much damage. 

Anyone interested in arranging a visit should contact Callaway City Hall at 850-871-6000.

The museum next to the schoolhouse is still being recovered; they’re hoping to have it completed and reopened sometime in 2021.

Schoolhouse history from Callaway Historical Society

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