Historic Site Being Torn Down

By: Anna-Lysa Gayle Email
By: Anna-Lysa Gayle Email

HARRISONBURG -- A piece of history is being torn apart. The Mabel Memorial Schoolhouse dates back to 1914. It is known as one of the first integrated schools in Virginia.

"The Mabel Memorial Schoolhouse was donated by U.S. Navy surgeon USG Hennenburger in 1899," said March Warner, the brother to the owner of the building.

A century later, the building is now owned by Eddie Warner.

"The City of Harrisonburg rerouted Lucy Drive to benefit a student housing developer and they moved Lucy Drive right through the school house," said March Warner.

A book was found inside the Mabel Memorial Schoolhouse. It's a first edition 'Up from Slavery' book by Booker T. Washington. Inside it is a letter from the symbolic founder of James Madison University. The letter written by former Senator George Bernard Keezell is addressed to his mother.

March Warner says there also other artifacts that were inside the building.

"We found these civil war bullets along the foundation," said Warner.

Eddie Warner was working to make the building a landmark.

"He wanted to get a grant and remove the temporary improvements inside and restore it's original condition as a museum," said March Warner.

"It's history you know. I mean you can spend years putting together something like this and it's handmade," said Patrick Doeppe.

He volunteered to preserve the wood and skeleton of the building. He will move it onto his property in Greene County.

The Warner brothers are hoping to keep the building next to the Mabel Schoolhouse. James Madison University used it back in 1909.

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