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The old Monclova School Building, which now houses the Monclova Community Center, will mark its centennial with a celebration by the Monclova Historical Foundation on Aug. 11.
The town, however, was not always certain the former schoolhouse would live to see its 100th year.
In 1997, the Monclova Township trustees planned to raze the 1912 building and build new township offices in its place. A dedicated group of community members vehemently opposed the plan.
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"The building was one of the old original schoolhouses, which is why its architecture is so outstanding," said Frank Roach, who spearheaded the opposition. "Several of us really didn't want to see that beautiful building subject to the wrecker's ball."
The structure had been vacant since the early 1970s, when a new elementary school was built on a separate parcel.
There had been several attempts to restore the building but all fell short of the necessary funding. Eventually, the Monclova school board gave the old school to the township.
"The township was going to make offices out of [the existing building], but they decided it would cost too much," Mr. Roach said. "They were going to tear it down until we got together with the trustees and worked out a lease."
Mr. Roach and a group of others formed the nonprofit Monclova Historical Foundation and signed a 50-year lease for the building with the township. The group then raised more than $500,000 to renovate the structure, a task the township's architects had said would cost more than $1 million. The building reopened as the community center in 1998.
"By a lot of volunteer labor, a lot of good people really working together, and suppliers that caught the vision of what could happen there and sold us the material at very attractive prices, we were able to complete the rehabilitation of the building for around $600,000," Mr. Roach said. "It shows what can be accomplished when you get a bunch of community-spirited people working together."
Mr. Roach, who served on the board of the foundation for four years, said the group implemented a rule that did not allow board members to serve for more than four years, in order to bring fresh talent to the council.
Bill Strayer, the Monclova Historic Foundation's current president, said the building's 100th birthday party will have a "Then and Now" theme.
Picks and Sticks, a Northfield, Mich., band that has played at venues across the Midwest, is to provide entertainment at the event.
"They play old-time instruments and period-type music," he said. "They dress for the period, too."
On the center's second floor, Mr. Strayer said, will be a tavern selling beer and showcasing entertainment from Ragtime Rick and the Chefs of Dixieland, a seven-piece traditional jazz band from Toledo.
The celebration also will feature refreshments, carriage rides, a parade with antique automobiles and tractors, and a silent auction.
"We're looking for antiques to auction off," Mr. Strayer said. "We're going to have some antiques and some modern things."
The festival will take place Aug. 11 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Monclova Community Center in Monclova. The parade is to start at 11 a.m. and go down Monclova Road, starting at the Monclova Baptist Church and heading west, ending at the Monclova Fire Station.
Proceeds from the celebration will be put toward an additional parking lot for the center.
Contact Mel Flanagan at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6087.