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Sunday, May 1, 2016

A community comes together for ... A labor of love

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Countless hours and dollars have been volunteered to the effort, but more is needed, said Celeste Ezell.

Ezell is heading up a group that is working to improve the old Byron School House. Though numerous improvements have been made to the over a century old building, Ezell said she wants to see the building restored to its fullest potential.

Adults in the Byron community began offering basic reading and arithmetic lessons in 1869, and in 1900, an official school house was established.

After 23 years of serving the community's first through eighth grade students, a second room was added to the building, and the school's rich history continued, Ezell said.

That history is in part why Ezell is determined to promote the restoration efforts.

She said the old Byron school is special in that it was the educational home base for many local community elders, as well as the site of a number of community fellowships and church gatherings and the place where countless loves were sparked.

Ezell said though she is too young to have ever attended classes in the old school, the building has some personal value to her. "(Repairing the old Byron School House) meant a lot to my mom. She attended classes along with a lot of my aunts and uncles here at the (Byron) school," she said. "She would talk about it when I was little, and I would come and play in the old building sometimes and think it was so neat."

Ezell said she knows that her work to save the building is worthwhile. Individuals from all across the state stop in to visit the old school house almost every month -- there's proof in the guest book. "It amazes me that people travel here to visit this old building. There's nearly a new name every month," she said. "I've even seen people sign in during February when you wouldn't think anyone would be traveling."

Ezell has scheduled a work week Oct. 1-6, during which she hopes to have enough donated money and labor to repair the roof and southeast corner of the foundation and to repaint the building. "The Byron Community has lost so much in the last few decades and is a shell of the Arkansas town we once knew. Please join us in restoring this vestige of an earlier era," Ezell said in a letter she sent to Byron alumni.

Anyone interested in making a tax deductible donation or in contributing pictures and stories that involve the old school can send donations and information to Ezell at 8688 Byron Rd., Salem, AR, 72576.

"This is something important. If no one takes the time or makes the effort to help, (the old Byron School) will be forgotten," Ezell said. "This was a different time and era and is important to keeping the local history alive."

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