Farmington gearing up for unveiling of ‘new’ old school
Published 10:31 am Thursday, August 31, 2017
Melanie Forbes Cook
Farmington Community Events Center
Farmington Road is busy this week with students returning to school.
The road connecting Mocksville to the original “Town of Farming” once again has high school students traveling to attend classes. Many of those students drive by Farmington Community Events Center – by the same campus that their grandparents and great-grandparents attended as teenagers.
The first students to attend school in the Town of Farming came to the Union Academy in 1854. Over the next 30 years, formal education would become more prevalent and a new wood-frame schoolhouse was built in 1882. The U.S. Postal Service changed the name of the “Town of Farming” to “Farmington” and the new school, Farmington Academy, became the first high school established in Davie County.
In 2017-18, Davie High School students can choose from a myriad of classes. In 1891, students also had choices with each choice coming with a price. First Steps tuition was $1 per month. Intermediate tuition was $1.25 to $2 per month. Advanced and Classical classes were $2 to $3 per month. Adding a music class to the schedule was an additional $2 per month.
In 2017, Farmington Road is abuzz with school buses taking students to school. In 1891, commute times were longer so many students boarded near the school, at a cost of $8 per month. The school fee was 25 cents and covered repairs, wood, Crayons, etc. The academy was advertised as “nearly new, well arranged for school work, and costing around $1,500.” Farmington Academy sat on property where Farmington Community Events Center is located at 1723 Farmington Road.
Education would remain prominent in Farmington and, as the times changed, the need for a new school was evident. Farmington Academy transitioned to Farmington High School.
According to the Sept. 26, 1916 Davie Record newspaper: “Farmington High School would be tuition free to high school students,” making formal education available to all students. The excitement in the fall of 1916, as students walked into school for the first time, must have rivaled the excitement as students walked into the new Davie High School in the fall of 2017. The doors to new opportunities swung wide open and education made readily available for the students of Farmington.
As more students began to leave family farms to attend school, the need became evident that a new building, to replace the wooden structure, was needed.
On April 2, 1917, the Davie County Board of Education committed up to $2,500 toward a new building. In order to receive the funds from the board, the Farmington Special Tax District Number 7 need to come up with the other $2,500. The process was long with tax levy evaluations and the execution of bonds. Nearly two years later, the Farmington School Building Committee formed, and the work began. The new school would consist of a two-story brick schoolhouse and a one-story wood-frame gymnasium. Work began in 1919 and local citizens were involved in making bricks for the school, as well as dismantling the old wooden schoolhouse. The Building Committee sold lumber from the old school with the proceeds put back into the building fund for the new brick school.
Spring of 1920 saw the opening of the new brick school as students attended classes in the lower level of the school. The second level was not yet ready for classes. While school was in session, work continued on the playground area, rock walls, walkways, and entrance pillars.
After one successful year in the new school, the second level still needed to be completed. Work was completed on July 27, 1921. The final step in the new school came in July 1923, when seats were installed in the auditorium, at a cost of $175. The initial budget of $5,000 was inadequate and the final total for the purchase of additional land and the building of the two-story brick schoolhouse and the wooden gymnasium was approximately $7,600.
In the midst of the construction, Davie County Board of Education decided that it would be prudent to consolidate several local schools. The Board of Education would purchase and operate trucks to transport students, in nearby communities, to Farmington School. The county would be split into districts and, modeling Farmington High School, each district would be responsible for erecting a schoolhouse, in their district.
Farmington High School received two Ford Model A trucks from the Board of Education and they began to transport students to school. These new school buses traveled in a one and a half mile radius of the school to bring students into Farmington. The trucks were purchased from Mr. C.C. Sanford of Sanford Motors Company in Mocksville for a total cost of $2,000, in October 1921. In 1923, Sanford Motors Company sold chairs for the buses for an additional $52.50.
More transitions in the educational history of Farmington will be covered in coming articles, leading up to our open house, ribbon cutting and big reveal of the newly-refurbished spaces at the old school-house on Sept. 22 from 4-7 p.m. We invite you to come out to view historical displays tracing the progression of education in Farmington and walk the old sidewalk from the stone pillar fronting Farmington Road to the end of the sidewalk, where the old school-house sat. We will have guided tours of the facilities, hors d’oeuvres, music, and door prizes.
Farmington Community Association serves as the guardians of the historical properties and we invite you to come back to school on Sept. 22.
Much of the information in this article is from the amazing work of Polly A. Lomax, “A Brief History of Farmington Schools” and information gleaned from the Davie County Public Library History Room and Digital Davie, a service of the library.
Farmington Community Events Center is indebted to the library for being a conservator of history for Farmington and all of Davie County.