Restore the Old; Heal the Broken.

his·to·ry

the study of past events, particularly in human affairs.

Growing up, I was the child that spent hours at my grandparents asking to look at more photos, to try on dresses, and my questions were endless. Looking back, that’s probably one of the earliest signs of a personality trait that has never faded away, and it intensified into a passion of mine. I am not a huge history buff, and I can get sidetracked easily, but I do believe in the importance of studying our past. There is so much to learn, and something special about places, pictures, and objects that have captured yet withstood time. I cannot explain the magic of visiting something older than most people around you, and I do believe there is a certain spirit attached to places like so.

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My lovely little town is famous for tearing vintage places down. Seriously though, all I have are beautiful yet aged photos of what once was, what they turned into a parking lot, or what buildings have rotted away and become empty decaying shells of interesting stories that once filled the paint chipped rooms. My heart sinks into my stomach to see such photos, and while yes I’m happy to envision the history that once existed in my town, I possess such an overwhelming sense of sadness that we did not appreciate such beautiful, and what looked like entertaining places. We have lost a majority of personality and activities to superstores, fast food chains, and parking lots. Call me crazy, but one day if we were to continue on that path, every town would look the same. No thanks. There is of an utmost importance in showing youth how to appreciate such things, or to show them a history that started this town, not to mention envelope the word unique.

summit

Ever since my dad showed me Summit Elementary, a school that shut its doors in 1972 because of integration, I was beyond intrigued. I thought it was beautiful, and such a waste of an incredible architectural building to just be sitting there. Seriously? Another building that this town claims to just sit and rot? The answer was yes; for forty-two years. The paint peeled, windows were broken, cracks shuttered down the stucco, and empty desks were thrown into classrooms that were once prepared for the next coming years. Spray paint covers one end of a hall making it look like the set of American Horror Story, and here I stood in random rooms trying to figure out what outdated equipment was used for. My body was encompassed by a place that had so many stories, held so much human life, and was such a pivotal piece to local history. After years of taking pictures on the outside (one that this blog was used to seeing) I finally stood among the inside overwhelmed by the still, yet sadness that my town could do such a thing. When will we start pouring money into restoring the old rather than continuously bringing in new that we can hardly keep up with? Why not restore such amazing pieces of history rather than running right over them?

summitcollage

Well this downward article actually has a happy ending. As stated before, Summit decayed for forty-two years, and endured a lot of local abuse. Finally, someone saw a spark of hope, acted on it and turned it into Summit Baptist Church. While I can say I’m not a church-type person, I jumped for joy that we were putting life back into history. Someone finally saw this building as special, not just a “ghost hunt.” I pulled up to open doors, and didn’t hold back for a second before rushing inside to an old school that has itched my mind for years. Greeted by a friend, we began our walk around the building. An old stage, chipped floors, tin covered windows, and smiling pastors that overlooked all the damage. Acknowledging the ridiculous amount of work, and money for the work that has to be done, I did not feel a bit disappointment anymore. I can’t put into words what its like to stand in the middle of what feels like a war-zone, yet to be completely uplifted. The personalities, and determination as well as the focus of what they are doing to give life to this building left me feeling at peace. My itch had finally been scratched.

No, I’m not a church person, but I have never felt a greater sense of my creator in this place. From the people I met that didn’t care about the ring hanging out of my nose that I forgot to take out (oops), inviting me to the lunch that they prepared there, and the amazing yet earth shattering conversations that took place within those walls, I was drawn there for a reason; the type of reasons that leave you with hairs standing on the back of your neck. I believe there is nothing more truly artistic than to love people, and I felt it radiating within the building. I just want to congratulate, and send loving yet home-warming wishes to the Pastors that have made this their project, congregation, and believe in restoring this history. It truly is a form of art. May the creator himself bless y’all in your future endeavors, and challenges.

-haley.

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