Until a few years ago, a long-forgotten schoolhouse at 639 Young Street in Neosho was hiding in plain sight inside an abandoned rental house. Today a century of modifications have been stripped away, revealing the original 1872 Neosho Colored School, the first school attended by George Washington Carver.
Restoration efforts by The Carver Birthplace Association are ongoing, and this week the schoolhouse is getting a new roof courtesy of the Phillip Camerer Roofing Company.
Camerer is donating the new roof as a way of giving back to the community. He made the offer a couple of years ago, but the building first required stabilization. During the stabilization process the schoolhouse was lifted from the ground and moved into the backyard, a new foundation was built, and then the structure was returned to the same footprint it occupied for 147 years.
The cedar shingles being installed are period-correct Western Number One, closely resembling the original shingles that were discovered when several layers of asphalt shingles were removed. Restoration is completely funded by private donations; no government money is involved.
The next major project will be installing historically-correct windows and doors. When exterior work is complete restoration of the interior will begin. Classroom conditions during Carver’s time at the school will be replicated, and The George Washington Carver National Monument will provide interpretive programs for school field trips and the general public. For more information call 417-455-3231 or visit www.1872carverschool.wordpress.com.