In a day and age when 100-year-old public buildings usually have a date with a bulldozer rather than a birthday cake, it was good to see a celebration of not only a former public school building on Saturday, but the 10 decades of education, history and community spirit Bladenboro’s former Farm Life School — and now home to Bladenboro Historical Society museums — has given the town and county.
Staff Writer Chrysta Carroll’s account of that celebration will give just a touch of what the facility has meant to Bladenboro. He seven-part series earlier on the year will fill in some gaps on how the former school has transformed itself over the decades of use.
But a million written words could never express just how cherished, loved and honored the facility has become to the numerous volunteers who have embraced keeping the history of the school, the community and the county alive.
With so much of our history being wiped away by the cruelty of weather and neglect, the urge for progress and the unreasonable whim of public opinion, we applaud those volunteers in Bladenboro — as well as the support received from outside the town — who have kept this piece of history intact.
If there was any kind of sadness Saturday, it was because a key figure in making the Bladenboro Historical Society building what it is today wasn’t there on Saturday.
William Butler, who passed away in August at the age of 91, first heard about the Bladen County Board of Education’s plans to tear down the former Farm Life School sometime around 1992. He knew something had to be done.
Butler helped organize the group that remains alive today, the Bladenboro Historical Society, and as a group they saved the old building — then began turning it into what has become one of the town’s most sacred icons.
Now home to several museums depicting the rural style of life in Bladenboro and beyond, as well as many of the artifacts from local schools, farms and businesses, the grounds also host the annual Fun Day and other community events.
Five years ago, at the age of 86, Butler was deservedly presented with the state’s highest civilian honor — the Order of the Long Leaf Pine.
It is fitting that we take a moment now to thank all of the volunteers who have worked so hard to, first save the old Farm Life School and then breathe such lasting and energetic life into the property. But perhaps one of the loudest standing ovations goes to Butler.
We hope his legacy and the Farm Life School’s history lives on another 100 years.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree.” (Michael Crichton)