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Former Mount Eden schoolhouse torn down

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By Lisa King

The old Mount Eden School is in rubble now, but it lives on in the memory of those who went to school there, memories that some are finding hard to let go.

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“I was really careful with the way I did the demolition; I saved a lot of bricks,” said Barry Campbell, a Vietnam veteran and a member of the Mount Eden Ruritan Club who attended school in the building on KY 53.
Ruritan Club member, Mount Eden alumnus and Shelby County Magistrate Tony Carriss said the club, which purchased the building in 1982, decided to demolish the building because of safety and crime issues. The building had been the educational site for students – as a 12-year school, an 8-year school and finally through sixth grade – and then professionals trying to learn the art of horse shoeing.
“The building had been vandalized many times since the horse shoeing school had moved out, and the Ruritan Club decided it was too dangerous in its current state,” Carriss said.
Tim Perry, also a member of the Ruritan Club, who went to first through third grades at the school in the early 1970s, said the structure, a 1-story brick building erected in 1939, had been a big part of the community of Mount Eden even after it closed down as a school.
That was because it had become a facility to train farriers until 2009, when the Kentucky Horse Shoeing School relocated to Richmond.
“When it [the farrier school] went out about four or five years ago, it [the building] got in bad shape,” he said. “The roof was leaking. It would have cost us a million dollars to fix it. We couldn’t use it for anything else, that’s why it’s been vacant all this time.’
It was Campbell who last week demolished the building, and he said he took care to preserve many bricks so that anyone who went to school there can have a brick for free for a keepsake.
“I have some really good friends I went to school with there – some of them I was in Vietnam with,” he said. “I was the only one who came back; sometimes it’s hard to deal with that. Why did I get to come back and not them?”
Campbell said the only reminder he had of those friends was when he passed by the old school building where they had shared so many happy times together.
Perry said he could understand the feelings of people who have wanted to keep the building in operation because of its history in the community and because people are naturally sentimental about where they went to school, he said.
“I loved it myself,” he said. “I can still see it in my mind the way it used to be, with the ball diamond behind it, and our big gymnasium, but that [gym] burned down the year after the school closed. Some say it was arson.”
Carriss said he was sentimental about it, too.
“Many wonderful memories were made in the halls of that school,” he said.
Carriss’ sister, Vivian Lisby, who works at Carriss Grocery, said when she heard the building was about to be torn down, she rushed out to get one last look at it.
“I went to school there, grades first through six – I sure hate it [the demolition], but I know how it is,” she said.
“My dad went to school there, too, but he had to graduate at Waddy because 1949 was the last graduating class there [for high school],” she said.
Lisby’s friend, Theresa Hargis, echoed those sentiments, also, on Lisby’s Facebook page: “Ted and I had a lot of great times with our precious friends there; every July 4th; my, my, making memories like a post card, we can pull them out from time to time.”
Perry said the Ruritan Club’s decision to tear down the school really was in the best interest of the community in the practical sense.
“It just wasn’t feasible [to repair and operate]; it was a liability,” he said.
Campbell said that was especially true because the club had lost the $3,500 per year revenue the building had been bringing in from the farrier operation.
That money had been used to keep the utilities on, and for needed maintenance, he said, adding that people in favor of keeping the facility had suggested it be used as a public housing unit, but there was no money to repair it with.
Jim O’Malley, a former Ruritan Club member, said he was in favor of the demolition.
“Ever since it [the building] has been vacant, kids have broken all the windows out, and it was just an accident waiting to happen,” he said.
Said Perry: “Somebody could have gotten hurt there, or started a meth lab in it, or it could have caught on fire, and it would be a shame for a fire fighter to get hurt trying to save an old building like that.
“And then, too, we’ve had an issue in Mount Eden before with old buildings getting too run down, and that’s what we were trying to prevent. So I think we did the community a favor, as heart breaking as it is that it had to end up that way.”