N.C. Historic Commission Meeting May 19, 2005
“The First Turning Point”
The NC Historic Commission meeting in Raleigh, N.C. on May 19, 2005, was a true turning point for saving the BHS buildings. Peter Sandbeck, from the State Historic Preservation Office was there for support. The proposed demolition of the BHS buildings was on the agenda. Sonny McLawhorn and I sat a few rows behind Dr. Jeffrey Moss, Superintendent of Beaufort County Schools and his attorney Kim Edwards. Dr. Moss went first. He told the group that the property was of no further use to the school and stated the plans were to demolish it and make it a parking lot. Peggy went next. She asked for time to find other options for a historic property in the middle of the historic district of the oldest town in the state celebrating the Tricentennial. Then, Dr. Moss got up again to rebut a point. Peggy went up behind him to clarify. It was intense and heated. One of the commissioners said sadly, “It’s another case of paving paradise to put up a parking lot. We see way too many of these cases.” The Commission voted unanimously to support a stay in the demolition to give BHSP six months to find alternatives to demolition.
The meeting ended and as Peggy was leaving, William Powell found her in the lobby. He smiled broadly and said, “you were eloquent”. Reminding him she was nervous and had no speaking skills, he took her hand in his and said with a twinkle in his eye, “you are passionate about this work and it shows when you speak. Besides, I knew you had him on the run when his face turned red” and he laughed gaily as he wished us well. After he walked away, Peter told me that Mr. Powell wrote most of the NC history textbooks. He was a professor of history emeritus at UNC-Chapel Hill and 86 years old at this meeting of the Commission. He was author or editor of many reference books about the state, including the six-volume Dictionary of North Carolina Biography and The North Carolina Gazetteer. What I have found over the years is that you meet the nicest people where you least expect them. As a gentleman and consummate historian, he offered an encouraging word to a novice preservationist and it still makes me smile!
File photo from 1939. View from the Bath Elementary School lot when it was a just a field.
Bath High School Preservation’s Story
Let’s start back at the beginning of this BHSP story. Back in 1920, in a time when women were just being given the right to vote, our forward- thinking town moved them into leadership positions. The various buildings that comprised the former Bath High School are said to be constructed between 1918-1921. The first classes were held in 1921 and the first graduating class was 1925. For 64 years, from 1921 until 1989, 3,291 students attended from grades 1 to 11 or K to 12. Imagine how the students in 1946 who thought they were graduating with 11 years got the news that now there were 12 years of school and they would graduate next year in the Class of 1947. They were also the first class to publish an annual yearbook.
The two-story buildings that accommodated principally grades 9-12 were no longer used for classes in 1989 and students transferred to the newly built Northside High School. Although mostly dormant since 1989, these three buildings occupy close to an acre in the heart of the historic district and offer over 30,000 square feet of space, ideal for local businesses and cultural attractions. Featuring 12-foot bead-board ceilings, original heart pine, 6 over 6 paned double-hung sash windows, and hardwood floors throughout the buildings, this well-connected layout is known for its open space and natural light. The buildings were used for storage by the school system, but maintenance was deferred for many years. When the school system stopped using the buildings, the doors and windows were boarded up to protect the structure from weather and vandals.
On March 8, 2005, the Town of Bath was celebrating 300 years with dignitaries from Raleigh and Beaufort County joining the Town leaders to recognize the significance of the Oldest Town in N.C. As many recall, the grand 300th Celebration tent set up for the luncheon was blown away by an errant wind. On that day, Claudia Deviney of Preservation N.C. met with Peggy D. Smith, her nephew Bradley Mills and Milo Gibbs to tour the Swindell Store. While touring the store, Claudia asked Peggy- “what’s going to happen with the high school”? She was caught off guard, being unaware of plans to tear down the school. Peggy’s mother said, “It’s been in the classifieds in the paper, didn’t you see it?” The Swindell Store was soon sold to Ken Friedlein with a secure future, but that started a conversation with Preservation NC that lasted many years.
In March, 2005, Peggy attended her first Bath Town Council meeting and asked the Town, “will you listen to the preservation experts before tearing down the school”? Jim Cox was there offering support. When Peggy talked to her friends, everyone was doubtful and most urged her not to get involved. She heard them saying, “it will never work, it’s not worth your trouble”. But a special friend said, “It’s the right thing to do”. It felt like the right thing to do, so she did what she could. As a registered nurse, she had no experience with public meetings and historic preservation. She had no knowledge or background on what other people had tried already or what things had been discussed. She had been living away for 20 years and just knew that there was no reason to tear down the buildings when they were a special place to many, built to last and important to the historic town. Having no preconceived notion was probably a blessing in disguise. She started with an open mind and had many divine interventions- things you can’t explain any other way than being in the right place at the right time.
A few weeks later, John P. Wood and Claudia Deviney toured the school property and stated, “This is a great opportunity for adaptive reuse of a contributing property to the National Register listed historic district of Bath.” They agreed to provide a presentation to the community and help save the buildings.
Bea Latham, at the N.C. Historic Site in Bath provided historical research including the March 19, 1921 News and Observer article by Carl Goerch on pg. 12 and hosted the first meeting of the community titled “Too Far Gone” at the Site’s Visitor Center in early-April with preservation specialists Claudia Deviney of Preservation NC and Scott Power and John P. Wood of the eastern regional office of the N.C. State Historic Preservation Office. David and Karen Sayer were there offering support.
At the April, 2005 Town Council Meeting, Barbara Modlin, Mayor of Bath, was gracious and allowed Peggy to introduce Claudia Deviney and John P. Wood, preservation experts who traveled to Bath to present alternative plans for the property. Bonnie Ahlberg was there offering support. The board ended the meeting by saying, “If the school board will listen, then come back to us and we will listen then”.
Peggy, Betsy, Mike, Nelda, Jim, Susan and others attended the April 25, 2005 BC School Board meeting and asked, “will you delay this demolition and let us have time to come back with the preservation specialists and a plan”? They said, “You have 25 days to come up with a plan and return.” That’s when the clock started ticking. The school board had only been using the older three buildings for storage and both entities had maintenance as a low priority, such that a section of tin about the size of a park bench seat on the NW wing had peeled up in a storm and flapped in the breeze. This was such a safety concern according to Town commissioner Barbara Morphet that she said the entire building needed to come down.
Immediately after the school board meeting, Peggy went to Janet Ormond Windley’s office for guidance on completing the state filing for the Bath High School Preservation, a 501 (C) 3 non-profit organization. The papers were completed by hand, a check written by Peggy and enclosed with filings for the BHSP communications at P.O. Box 149, Bath, N.C. 27808. The BHSP was approved by the State.Betsy D. Gray, F. Michael Godley & Peggy D. Smith
BHSP was formed over a few weeks in April, 2005. At a cottage in Bayview by the Pamlico River, three friends from Class of 1975- Peggy Daw Smith, Betsy Douglas Gray and Mike Godley- stuffed envelopes and attached labels prepared by Mike. Betsy mailed these out to the alumni addresses from the 2003 Decade of BHS Reunion with postage she donated. Without the 10 years of classmates who attended a reunion in Summer 2003 at the Washington Civic Center, the groundwork would not have been in place to launch a rapid response. You have heard the saying, “Timing is everything.” It truly was.
Mike had the BHS reunion website up and could easily post communications there. Peggy had moved back to Bath in 2002 and reconnected with an old friend at the 2003 reunion who helped her get an appointment to the Historic Bath Commission in Summer 2004. She got involved and as Betsy liked to say, “Peggy found a problem and called her friends in to help.”
Many local folks who signed the petition to stop the demolition circulated in person by Nelda Gaylord Ormond in early 2005 joined the effort. Most of the grassroots people had no idea what was planned for the BHS buildings. They saw the boarded-up windows and heard that “an investor had an option to purchase and we are waiting for the renovation to begin”. The notice of request for bids to demolish the building was a surprise when published in the Washington Daily News. Many responded with more questions. Starlon Credle offered support and her preservation contacts since she was involved in the J.A. Wilkinson Center renovation. Cynthia Brickhouse shared her efforts. The first two large donors, old friends Betsy Oden Boxer living in Spartanburg, S.C. and Ron Moore of Asheville, N.C. (both of whom have since retired to Bath and Beaufort County), funded the next mailings and the movement to save the BHS began in earnest. The pledges started pouring in totaling $22,000 to save the school.
The Beaufort County (BC) Board of Education (BOE) was meeting on the same day as the N.C. Historical Commission meeting, Thursday, May 19, 2005. Peggy hired Charles “Sonny” McLawhorn, an attorney with a personal interest in historic preservation. The two attended the N.C. Historical Commission meeting in Raleigh that day and returned to the BC BOE meeting that evening. Dr. Jeffrey Moss, BC Superintendent and Kim Edwards, BC attorney were traveling together from Raleigh to face the BOE with the BHSP on the agenda prepared to make a presentation at the end of the 25 days to come up with a plan. A phone conversation ensued between the two attorneys. At the BC BOE meeting that evening, Dr. Moss told the BOE that the N.C. Historical Commission heard the case and recommended there be a 6 month “stay” on any demolition to allow the BHSP to find solutions. The BOE was prepared to sign the demolition contract that night but they paused and decided to cancel all future actions. Instead, they voted unanimously to stop the funding of nearly $90,000 of taxpayer money for the demolition and legally return the entire 3 acres and all buildings to the Town of Bath. The deed had a reversionary clause “when the property was no longer used for school purposes” and they invoked it that night. As Peggy told them, “Why would you want to be remembered for tearing down a significant historic building in the middle of the oldest town in N.C. during the summer of the Tricentennial?” This day marked a major turning point.
The first Board of Directors of the BHSP met in June, 2005 at the home of Nelda Ormond. The board included Nelda, Jack Wallace, Rick Nittoli, Ron Moore, Melba Edwards, Harold Cutler and David Everett. The initial officers were Peggy Daw Smith, president, Betsy Gray, vice-president, Mike Godley secretary-treasurer and Susan Modlin, historiographer.
At the June, 2005 meeting with the Town Council, the BHSP was an official non-profit dedicated to finding a solution with the Town. The Town completed a contract with the BC BOE to receive rent payments totaling $48,000 for the Gym building classrooms for a 2-year period while the school finished up their new classroom construction on the elementary school property. In addition, the Town was deeded the back grassy lot the school planned to keep, where the functional septic lines were intact to the septic tank serving over 800 students with the cafeteria.
The first steps were to gather more information and evaluate the buildings. With the help of John P. Wood providing old photos, Cindy Cooke Harris, a 1981 graduate of Atlantic Christian College in Wilson and the sister of friends Beth and Jim Boykin at Framer’s Alley in Elm City, N.C. created a pen and ink which was framed by Jim and Beth. Cindy specializes in preserving history through architectural drawings across Eastern N.C. This visual art work was displayed at all meetings.
Pen and Ink by Cindy Cooke
At the July, 2005 meeting of the Historic Bath Commission, the Chair Josie Hookway presided at the Noe Building. She allowed Peggy and Betsy to do a presentation on the BHSP’s efforts to save the Historic Bath High School. The presentation included photos in a power point and went off beautifully with great interest by the Commissioners. Later at lunch, we all realized that the Commission had not voted to support the BHSP efforts. Peggy’s fellow Commission members Anna Douglas Biggs, Ruth Smith Waters and Rachel Futrell moved, seconded and led the Commission to vote unanimously to support the preservation of these historic buildings. Bobby Roberson offered support.
In the summer of 2005, the Bath Town Council consented to allow the BHSP to arrange and fund limited repairs to the roof. One of the most visible, disturbing and damaging aspects of deferred maintenance since 1989 were leaking areas on the standing seam tin roof. David Everett made emergency repairs with roll roofing over the gaps and folded the tin back into place. The first steps were to repair and secure the building from water leaks and alleviate any safety concerns.
The early days of the organization were intense and managed urgently by phone calls between the officers and board. There was a unity of purpose and common mission. Meetings were held at the Board’s homes and later at the Bath Christian Church fellowship hall. Susan Modlin, as the historiographer, worked to document the building and provide deed related or other helpful information. Marti Buchanan was there offering support. She had experience with the Turnage Theater and was closely involved with the return of the “Blackbeard, Knight of the Black Flag” drama in Summer 2005.
2005 The Story of the Bath Creek Santa’s
Diane Merryman was living in Virginia and working with Lynn McPhearson with the Chesapeake Bay Christmas Company to decorate Santa’s. In 2005, Lynn had a surplus of Santa’s that she donated to Diane to personalize a decoration theme with the Bath High School Preservation as a fund raiser. Diane provided the seafaring and pirate décor for BHSP. She delivered the Santa’s to be sold at $100 each to raise funds for the early days starting in the Summer of 2005 just months after the BHSP formed in April, 2005. A total of 100 Bath Creek Santa’s were donated in memory of her mother and intended to raise $10,000 for the BHSP.
Diane’s three oldest sisters, Pat Roper Overman, Nancy Roper Setty and Sylvia Roper Custer were all born in Bath. Pat attended one year of elementary school at the Bath High School before the family moved to Newport News. Her father, Henry N. Roper, Jr. was hired to work in the Newport News Shipyard. Her grandmother, Nancy Brooks Roper lived in Bath until her death at 102 years of age. She was noted as the town historian for many years as she had quite a good memory. Diane and all of her siblings (6) have fond memories of returning to Bath as children for family visits, reunions and special occasions (including her wedding in St. Thomas Episcopal Church). It was such a unique experience as a child to see so many friendly people walking around town. Her parents seemed to know everyone and everyone waved or spoke to them.
As adults, Pat, Nancy, Sylvia and Diane returned from time to time as a sister weekend outing. They shopped thrift stores along the way and in Washington, and visited aunts, uncles and cousins while in Bath, mostly on the Tankard (mother’s) side of the family as our close Roper relatives had passed or moved away. One of their favorite stops was the Bath Grill to eat cheese biscuits. It was common that we would purchase a dozen and take them home to freeze or share with family.
For a number of years, Diane and her husband returned for Bride and Grooms Day, a celebration at St. Thomas Episcopal Church where couples who were married there returned to renew their wedding vows. She chose to follow in her grandmother’s footsteps by marrying at the church too. Her aunt, Elizabeth Roper Reynolds (married to John Clee Reynolds) and uncle Jack Roper (married to Mammie Ruth May) were also married there.
From Diane Merryman’s Memoirs
It seemed very fitting for Diane to make the donation of the Bath Creek Santa’s. In 2020, Diane offered her skills in grant writing. She has been working tirelessly to find matching, challenge, federal, state and local grant opportunities. In 2021, we received notice of $32,500 so far. With the 600 Club donations, grantors were impressed.
The BHSP purchased additional Bath Creek Santa’s from the Chesapeake Bay Christmas Company in more recent years. Marti Buchanan led the design of later year Santa’s. There are a limited number for sale. Contact Claudia Alligood if you are interested in purchasing one of these special items of BHSP memorabilia. A limited number are available from previous years and the 2021 edition.
The activity of the earliest volunteers was severely hampered by plywood nailed or screwed on the outside of the damaged doors. Each time entry was made, the plywood had to be removed and replaced. It was dark and hard to see what needed care. With time, the Town began to trust the BHSP and allowed windows to be left uncovered and doors to be repaired or replaced with workable locks. We still had to sign a waiver of liability provided by the Town on every entry and maintain all the forms. It was a wonderful resource to have Jack Wallace involved, as he could recall key items like the BC BOE completing asbestos remediation in 1989 before the school was closed. The early volunteers went inside with flashlights to clean up, sweep, throw away trash and prepare the building for professionals to enter and complete evaluations and reports.
One special moment occurred, flashlights in hand, as June Wallace called out. “Look what I found”. It was a sweet note written by Gina as a young girl to her father, Jack Wallace, that somehow was stuck in the back of a desk drawer. Some radiators, lockers and items had been sold off after the school closed. The early volunteers sorted through debris to salvage anything of value. The original green office curtains were still hanging at the windows in a building boarded up for nearly two decades. Those were cleaned and proudly displayed at the 2007 Open House and Reunion.
The Bath Town board appointed Jay Hardin to represent the town in school related activities. Mr. Hardin was instrumental in working with Preservation N.C. to connect the Swindell Store, another historic property on Main Street with a buyer, Mr. Ken Friedlein. The store is open after renovation and remains a contributing property to the historic district of Bath. All of the Town board members were invited to participate in a walk-through of the building on October 24,2005 at 1 p.m. Claudia Deviney representing Preservation North Carolina, a non-profit organization worked with the town to try to find a developer for the property. Representatives attended the November, 2005 town meeting to answer questions.
Engineers and contractors were brought in to study the structures, recommend uses, and answer the fundamental question of whether the building could be saved. The answer was a clear and simple “yes”. David Fischetti of DCF Engineering in Cary, the structural engineer engaged to move the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, was scheduled to inspect the building. The preservation specialist impressed on everyone- once it’s gone, there is no way to get it back.
February 13, 2006 Structural Engineer Report by David Fischetti
There were whispers and inflections of opinion on the structural integrity of the building. Preservation specialists had stated the building was “overbuilt” with ancient timbers and was sound. However, people being who people are, they needed hard proof. Who better to reassure them than the structural engineer hired to move the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse for the State of N.C.? He was well-respected and well-known. David Fischetti arrived on site and toured the entire property in February 2006 with Peggy and David Sayer. He told us that no matter how sound a building was, it was uncertain if the community would choose to save it. He had the misfortune to see many buildings destroyed that were in pretty good shape. When he concluded his examination, he stated what ended up in the 10 page formal report,” In general, the existing Bath High School is still sound structurally… based on observation and analysis, we will be able to certify the structural portion of Bath High School as adequate in meeting the structural requirements of the North Carolina Building Code once repairs are made to areas…..and undertake a stabilization program. Based upon our experience in the rehabilitation of such projects, it is our conclusion that this project is an excellent opportunity to rehabilitate a significant facility, by upgrading major systems.”
The buildings are two-story with load bearing exterior walls composed of brick masonry. It is a contributing structure to the Bath Historic District listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The overall dimensions of the building are 158’-0” in length and 142’-0” in width, with approximately 16,000 square feet of area on the first floor and 14,000 square feet on the second floor. The interior supports consist of load bearing stud walls with wood lath and plaster and steel pipe columns. The floors of the Cafeteria and Auditorium are framed with full dimension 2 x 10’s spaced at 16 inches on center. The Classroom floors are framed with 2 ¼“ x 12“ deep joists spaced at 14 inches on center. Under the Auditorium are 4” x6” girders resting on 8” brick masonry piers spaced 8’-0” on center.
“The major costs for rehabilitation will consist of upgrading the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems and ensuring safe egress in accordance with the N.C. Building Code” (pg. 3, DCI report, 2006).
September 14, 2006 ECU Professor Hunt McKinnon
Hunt McKinnon, architect and professor met with Peggy Daw and Betsy Gray to develop some design options for the BHS buildings. He assigned students in two teams to create design boards that were presented to the public at the NC Estuarium in September, 2006. As a professional architect and consummate educator, Hunt motivated his students to be creative and they produced some outstanding visual designs. These boards were displayed in the BHS Office Wing at the 2007 Reunion and Open House providing the public with inspiration for the future uses of the buildings. The two design themes were “A Ripple in Time” and “Bridging the Gap”. They were foundational to describing the potential uses to the community and informed the feasibility study. It was interesting that the ECU design team had also been engaged to prepare conceptual drawings for a new Bath Museum. We saw the attractive structure with wrap around porches on an easel in his studio and realized that it was proposed to be located between the Visitor Center and “future demolished BHS” buildings where a parking lot was planned. There were plans to incorporate some of the old bricks from the school.
Dr. Ed Clement, Historic Bath Commissioner and Historic Bath Foundation leader was a wise and well-respected physician who loved Bath and attended St. Thomas Church. Dr. Clement summed it up perfectly, “It’s an ideal situation we find ourselves in with the renovation of the BHS, as we need this space for a museum and a library. We will find ways to work together.” He led the way on the Action Committee that included representatives from all the local organizations, meeting frequently at the Carson Cottage along with Historic Site Director, Leigh Swain.
October 9, 2006 Town Council Meeting
BHSP presented information on the National Register Listing application funded by an anonymous donor for the BHS buildings. The application process was managed by a historic consultant who researched the buildings recommended areas of historic impact. It took nearly a year to complete. We asked the Bath Town Council to allow the BHSP to remove some of the plywood to assist in inspections and allow for interior cleanup with better natural light. It would only be removed from intact windows and would not be a safety issue. George Mohorn moved and Rob Jenner seconded to allow BHSP to remove plywood covering some of the courtyard windows with the vote 4-0 to approve.
George was a vocal proponent of engineering needs for the sewer issues. The Town had been under a Standing Order of Consent for decades and continued to be under such after the N.C. Department of Water Quality declined to increase the wastewater flow even after the USDA funded sewer expansion on Possum Hill road. George invited two consulting groups to provide information to the Town Council on their services, one of which was selected for future work. The Town bought more property from the Jack Marsh family on the last sewer expansion, but unfortunately continues to face unrelenting sewer issues along with many other small N.C. towns.
It is important to understand how central the sewer issues were to how renovations and opportunities for the BHS buildings were viewed with the limited sewer capacity of the Town. Wayland Sermons worked with the town to try to help resolve the issues and recommended continued meetings of the BHSP with the Town.
April 10, 2007 Feasibility Study for BHS Buildings
The Town of Bath received a NC Rural Center Grant for $25,000 to complete a feasibility study for potential re-use plans for the BHS buildings. A local architect and owner of the Swindell Store completed the study through his firm Dixon and Weinstein, Durham, N.C. The report was 27 pages including maps, drawings of each wing including outlines of the septic drainage fields.
The former Bath High School consists of three separately constructed, two-story masonry buildings and a connector built for general education classes over four years around 1920. With the addition of a one-story kitchen addition in the mid-1960s, the school has more than 30,000 square feet under roof, making it both large and prominent given its location on Highway 92 in the Historic Bath State Historic District. The school has been closed since 1989, and the shuttered buildings are deteriorating due to weather, lack of maintenance and vandalism. The Beaufort County School system prepared to demolish the buildings but instead returned the property to the Town of Bath. Over the past two years, the town has permitted a group of interested citizens to contribute money and labor to clean up debris, patch roof leaks, and repair doors. A structural engineer familiar with building preservation assessed the buildings in 2006 and found the structures fundamentally sound and generally capable of adaptation to serve new uses and meet new building codes. The school buildings will require significant work to weatherproof the envelopes, provide modern mechanical systems, and update to current structural, life safety and accessibility codes. At the same time, re-use will save the cost of razing the structures and the expense and environmental impact of disposing of debris.
Size of the BHS Buildings- estimated at 31,000 total sq. ft. prior to the kitchen removal
First Floor Historic Site Exhibit Center (4,000 sq. ft. with 11.9 ft ceilings NW Wing)
Second Floor above Historic Site Exhibit Center (4,000 sq. ft. with 12 ft. ceilings NW Wing)
Auditorium East Wing (5440 sq. ft. with 12 ft. 6 in. ceiling at the front sloping to 11 ft. 10 in.)
Above Auditorium (5440 sq. ft. with 11 ft. ceilings)
First Floor Library (2825 sq. ft. with 12 ft. ceilings S Wing)
Second Floor above Library (2825 sq. ft. with 12 ft. ceilings S Wing)
First floor Pirate Hall (1800 sq. ft. with 12 ft. ceilings)
Second floor above Pirate Hall (1700 sq. ft. with 12 ft. ceiling)
The main buildings, just as they were constructed separately and independently, can offer both discrete spaces and shared circulation and bathrooms. Phasing is also possible, with the most needed or readily funded uses accommodated first, provided that steps are taken to halt deterioration in all the buildings in the meantime. Among possible uses, four seem likely candidates for inclusion in the project:
• An expanded Visitor’s Center with museum-quality exhibit galleries.
• Larger quarters for the Bath branch of the Beaufort Hyde Martin Regional Library.
• A conference center and flexible auditorium known as the Bath Assembly.
• Gallery space for exhibiting work by local and visiting artists.
Conceptual plans showing the spaces for each use as well as shared areas and site development are included in the study. Considering the costs of major system upgrades, allowance rates for interior upfits, fees, and other “soft costs,” the study proposes a probable project budget of $3.98 million, which includes a 12% contingency fund at a cost of $1.53 per square foot. The adaptive re-use approach vs. historic rehabilitation allows some latitude in interior finishes and removal of walls for new uses, but the high school will retain its familiar massing, proportion and presence. The estimated cost for renovation of all three wings was nearly $4 million. At the height of 2008 with fortunes running high, it seemed like a good possibility. Since then, it has taken ingenuity, good stewardship and local supportive contractors to keep costs contained at a fraction of this price. Ken provided many presentations to the Community on the study.
May, 2007 Pirates Revenge Newsletter First Edition
The idea for the newsletter and the name Pirate’s Revenge, began as we were traveling from Greenville, N.C. to frequent meetings in Bath. As we crossed the bridge into Washington one day, Betsy Gray came up with the name.
It’s a positive reflection on the BHS Pirates and Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge, combining the fighting spirit of the BHS Alumni and our fellow “Pirates” across eastern N.C. It answered the call for more timely information and offered a special feature article spotlighting our members. The first spotlight was written by Leanne E. Smith to recognize Nelda Karen Gaylord Ormond.
Pirate’s Revenge is a bi-annual newsletter developed by Bath High School Preservation members to provide pertinent information on the progress of our organization in preserving our heritage at the BHS building. The Spring 2021 Pirate’s Revenge Newsletter will be the 24th edition. Joanne Tuten Childs continues to serve as the editor with Nell Godley serving as the copy editor. Available at http://www.bhspreservation.org/newsletter.aspx.
2007 Summer D. Hoggard Restores Wall of Windows
“The Second Turning Point”
David Hoggard of Double Hung Windows, Greensboro, N.C. was in the Raleigh News and Observer for a project he completed on window restorations at a well-respected college. Peggy contacted him to come to Bath to evaluate the BHS windows. He arrived with his son and they proceeded to walk the property. The windows remained mostly covered with plywood but he could see a few and recognized the heart pine in an instant. He walked slowly around the buildings staring up at the multitude of shuttered windows stopping on the corner by Mr. Wallace’s office. He looked at me and said, “Peggy, I am going to help you.” I smiled and said, “Of course, everyone always helps me.” He said, “No, I am really going to help you. If you will choose which windows you want to uncover, I will bring my team and with your volunteers we will spend a week in Bath restoring your windows free of charge.” He felt that once the community could see the beauty of the windows, things would go much easier for the project. He specializes in the restoration, repair and weatherization of windows found in historic buildings. His company works with weighted windows that feature an upper and lower sash that slide vertical past one another in a single casement. They are the “eyes” of a building. David had no use for replacement windows. They are “a dime a dozen, and worth every penny.” “They call them replacement windows because that’s what you do, you keep replacing them.” He agreed with me that the Northwest wing- facing the State Historic Site Visitor Center would have the most impact. Visitors and local residents driving into town would see those first.
A summer cookout was held at Pat and Michael Mansfield’s home at Blackbeard’s View with many community members coming to welcome David and his team when they arrived on a Sunday afternoon. Mayor Latham, Josie Hookway, Bonnie Ahlberg and many BHSP supporters were treated to hamburgers, hot dogs and fresh corn on the cob grilled waterside by Jack Wallace. I learned that day that grilled corn on the cob was June’s favorite vegetable.
Volunteers who joined the professional team in scraping, painting and working to restore the windows during that week included Susan Modlin, Jim Cox, Marti Buchanan, Peggy Daw, Betsy Gray, Mike Godley and many others with photographs by Michael Mansfield. There was no way to describe the joy we felt seeing those windows repaired with fresh paint and working internal pulleys, once again easy to raise and lower for a fresh breeze. His team was able to fabricate the few necessary replacement sashes in the shop and continued to work in phases on more windows.
When the community “saw” the beauty of the architecture through the window restorations, there was a visible change in the hearts and minds of the people towards BHSP.
David Hoggard and his team gently restored 28 windows on site and 32 windows in his shop, replacing broken panes, reglazing, scraping and painting, and essentially returned 60 heart pine windows to their original condition. The windows inspired the next steps. It was truly the second turning point.
The BHSP members felt that with the restoration of a wall of windows with the help of David and his company that we should host an Open House and Reunion. The last reunion on the school property had been in 1989. June Wallace and Claudia Alligood agreed to organize the BHS memorabilia at the Multi-purpose room in the Bath Elementary. Marti Buchanan prepared a special notebook of BHSP history items and photos for visitors in the Auditorium.
July 21, 2007 BHS Reunion and Open House
On July 21, 2007, Claudia Alligood and June Wallace coordinated a reunion and public open house for the community to tour the open BHS buildings and to see memorabilia set up at the BHS and across the street at the multipurpose room at the elementary school.
The first set of windows in the Northwest wing had been restored just weeks earlier. In addition, the ECU Interior Design students under the direction of Professor Hunt McKinnon had divided into two teams. Students created drawings and design creations for the potential uses of the BHS buildings. Their work was on display to spark discussion of the reuse. Throughout the day, a steady flow of local community members visited the Open House, many for the first time. Former BHS classmates enjoyed seeing the buildings that closed in 1989 and the extensive set of photos and items displayed by class. Gina Wallace Hull created a design for the cover of a CD provided to guests with the Story of BHSP that Michael Mansfield created through video clips and Marti Buchanan reproduced in CDs.
The BHS Bell was on display with other Pirate memorabilia during the July 21, 2007 event. It formerly hung outside one of the entrances and in the cafeteria at Bath High School.
According to the National Bell Association, the bell owned now by BHSP that proudly sits in the library in the Bath Elementary School is one of the oldest bells in the United States. It was a ship’s bell and was given to a church in Bath. The church gave the bell to the Bath School which was located in the Red Men’s Hall, across from the Town Marker in “downtown Bath”. Since the school had no electricity, the bell was used to call the children to school.
Of note, Mr. T. A. Brooks, the man who was instrumental in getting the bricks for the current BHS to be built was involved when the Red Men’s Hall came up for sale. He bought the building and had it cut in half to make two houses that are still standing across from the marker. The Red Men Hall members donated the Indian bust to the Bath High School in the 1920’s. It is over 100 years old.
1989 & 2007 Reunion Coordinators, June Wallace and Claudia Alligood