unearth Porterdale School foundation
By JOEY PETERS
The remains of the old Porterdale
school were uncovered by workers recently as they were attempting to
build a basketball court at B.C. Crowell Park. –Photo by Colin Owens
PORTERDALE — Construction crews working at B.C. Crowell Park
unearthed a little piece of Newton County history this week when the
brick foundation of Porterdale’s old school house was found after
being buried for decades.
“We received a $5,000 grant from the state to be used for the
construction of a new basketball court at the park,” B.C. Crowell
said. “When they got out there and started digging, they came across
parts of the old building.”
Crowell, who began his storied career in the late 1940s as the
school’s physical education teacher, could not hide his excitement
in an interview Tuesday when talking about the discovery. “The
brickwork that they found is unlike anything I have seen done in
decades. ... The pattern on the brick and the way it was set, you just
don’t see that kind of work anymore.”
Constructed by Macon-based Bibb Manufacturing, which purchased the
mill and all of the town’s buildings in 1898,the school was actually
one of two all brick school houses that was constructed by the company
for its employees’ children in 1900.
The second building, which sat where the town’s current post office
and city hall stand, was constructed in 1917 and named the John Porter
Building after the son of town founder Oliver Porter. The leftover
bricks were used for the construction of an indoor pool facility and
also housed an expansive auditorium that was funded by the
Covington’s women’s club, which still operates in Covington today
on College Avenue.
Rarely seen today in modern business, Bibb essentially designed the
entire town from the ground up and was integral in the construction of
the community’s homes, schools and commercial buildings. Serving as
the town’s only educational facility for close to 60 years, the
buildings were unceremoniously demolished in the late 1960s by the
city because of age and needed cost cutting measures.
According to Porterdale historian and city councilwoman Rebecca
Rosebury, the destruction of the buildings was one of the worst
mistakes the town ever made. “When they tore down the old school
buildings, that was a great tragedy. ... We certainly could use those
buildings here today to act as a community center,” she said.
Newton County Commissioner and lifelong Ronnie Dimsdale attended the
school for a majority of his school career, and was surprised to hear
that the remnants of the old building still existed. “I had no idea
that parts of the building would still be there. ... I really hated to
see those buildings go. I can remember it was a type of building where
they would let the windows up to let the air blow through. ... I spent
a lot of time trying to learn something in those buildings,”
Stirring up some memories, he said that in those days Porterdale
was a great place to be a kid.
“Porterdale was a nice place to live and visit. ... The town was
pedestrian friendly and there were sidewalks everywhere so that you
could get around. The police were also tight on speeders, which made
it safe for the kids. ... I can remember some of my family coming down
from North Georgia and getting a ticket for going 31 m.p.h in a
30 m.p.h zone,” Dimsdale said.
While the discovery of the old foundation is a surprise find, he said
that the town should not worry about preserving the site because the
buildings are long gone. “ I do not think that it needs to be saved,
but hearing about them finding those bricks sure did bring back a lot
of good memories for me,” Dimsdale said.