The more than 80-year-old school building will be reconstructed with many of the same features of the demolished building that made the school unique to the community.
Structural issues as well as heightened maintenance costs perpetuated the plan to demolish the old building and reconstruct a new one, according to sitting Gordon County School board member Chris Johnson.
“Being on the school board and looking through the process of what we could do to renovate Fairmount, the architects came to us, and to renovate the existing bulding was going to cost several million dollars, to tear it down and build it back was actually cheaper and in our economic times we had to look at that,” said Johnson.
Originally built in 1929, one particular issue which created costly heating and cooling issues for the building was the clay tile type insulation installed in the building initially, according to Gordon County Construction Manager LaDon Wells, who says insulation of this kind was commonplace in the late 1920’s, but highly inefficient.
Additionally, several components of the building were salvaged, according to Wells, such as the central heating and cooling units, the fire alarm system, much of the technology installed in the building was also removed, among other things.
As the demolition contractor, Reed Construction out of Chatsworth, bulldozed through the building, onlookers from the community, Gordon County Board of Education boardmembers, and several past faculty and staff who worked in the building witnessed the demolition of the historic building.
For onlookers Barbara Long and Lamar Johnson, both long time employers of the Fairmount schools, reflected back on past memories while the building came down in the background.
“We never say goodbye. It’s (the building) always going to be a part of us regardless,” said Long. “You never say goodbye, its farewell for a while, we’ll meet again, but you do have to keep up with the times.”
Between Long and Johnson, more than 40 years were served at the Fairmount schools, but both agree the reconstruction is a good thing.
Johnson’s son is sitting board member Chris Johnson, who like his father, has many fond memories of the school building.
Four generations of the Johnson family were educated at Fairmount schools throughout its history.
I could talk about Fairmount all day long and about the school, said Chris Johnson. "There is always a sense of community there, the motto of the school is 'small school, big heart' and I think that’s been exemplified from the past to today."
Bricks from the building will be made available at a later date, according to Gordon County Schools, and updates will be made at www.gcbe.org.